Pseudogenes: Novel Biomarkers For Identifying Tumor Subtypes?

The study by researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center raises the possibility of using the information provided by these dysfunctional genes.

Alas, the thankless pseudogene.

Dysfunctional, unloved and seemingly of little use, these poor-cousin relatives of genes have lost their protein-coding abilities. They contain material not essential for an organism’s survival and are the “last stop” for removal of genomic waste.

Not any more. The pseudogene’s day may have arrived thanks to scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Han Liang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the Cancer Center is advancing knowledge of these largely overlooked but increasingly attractive genetic oddities. He and his team completed a study that generated pseudogene expression profiles in 2,808 patient samples representing seven cancer types. That meant analyzing 378 billion RNA sequences to measure the expression levels of close to 10,000 pseudogenes.

The results indicated that the science of pseudogene expression analysis may very well play a key role in explaining how cancer occurs by helping medical experts in the discovery of new biomarkers. The study’s findings appear in today’s issue of Nature Communications.

Read the press release here: http://bit.ly/1pVoU3t

Source: MD Anderson Cancer Center