A natural mechanism for fine-tuning our immune response to disease may underlie the development of a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma affecting B cells, report Riccardo Dalla-Favera at Columbia University in New York and colleagues in this week’s Nature (Vol. 412, No. 6844, 19 Jul 2001).
While they are developing, regions of the DNA of antibody-producing B cells undergo a process called ‘hypermutation’ to generate a range of antibody types. Dalla-Favera’s group screened the DNA of B cells from over 100 patients with ‘B-cell diffuse large-cell’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They found that this hypermutation mechanism has escaped the confines of the region that codes for antibodies, and now causes hypermutation of other genes - including four genes known to be associated with cancerous B cells. Hypermutation of these genes is likely to lead to the formation of this specific type of B-cell lymphoma, the researchers conclude.
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(C) Nature press release.
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