Breast Cell Found To Have Stem Cell Like Capabilities Of Producing Cancer

Stem cell – like cells can be turned cancerous in breast tissue.  Researchers from Michigan State University characterized two types of breast epithelial cell types, with one type possessing the ability to become mutinous under certain conditions because these particular cells exhibit stem cell-like characteristics that can turn into breast cancer.

The epithelial cells make up our skin and also surround our glands and body cavity.

Chia-Cheng Chang, Wei Sun, Angela Cruz, Maki Saitoh, Mei-Hui Tai, and James E. Trosko reported these findings in, A Human Breast Epithelial Cell Type with Stem Cell Characteristics as Target Cells for Carcinogenesis.

The abstract of this research will be included here:

“Two types of human breast epithelial cells (HBEC) have been characterized. In contrast to Type II HBEC, which express basal epithelial cell phenotypes, Type I HBEC are deficient in gap junctional intercellular communication and are capable of anchorage-independent growth and of expressing luminal epithelial cell markers, estrogen receptors, and stem cell characteristics (i.e. the ability to differentiate into other cell types and to form budding/ductal organoids on Matrigel). A comparative study of these two types of cells has revealed a high susceptibility of Type I HBEC to immortalization by SV40 large T antigen, although both types of cells are equally capable of acquiring an extended life span (bypassing senescence) after transfection with SV40. The immortalization was accompanied by elevation of a low level of telomerase activity in the parental cells after mid-passage (60 cumulative population doubling levels). Thus HBEC do have a low level of telomerase activity, and Type I HBEC with stem cell characteristics are more susceptible to telomerase activation and immortalization, a mechanism which might qualify them as target cells for breast carcinogenesis. The immortalized Type I HBEC can be converted to highly tumorigenic cells by further treatment with X rays (2 Gy × 2) and transfection with a mutated ERBB2 (also known as NEU) oncogene, resulting in the expression of p185ERBB2 which is tyrosine phosphorylated.”

Telomerase activity explains how many times a cell can renew itself before dying completely.  An extended telomerase means the cell has a longer than normal life and can then become cancerous.  Cancer cells have long telomerase.


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