In an article recently published in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of Toronto, along with scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital, demonstrated how what they call DNA ambulances work. These DNA ambulances transport severely injured DNA to specialized locations, or hospitals, within the cell to be repaired. In addition to the mode of transport, the researchers also found the road traveled by these healing transporters.
A ubiquitous but rare DNA base, previously thought to be a transitional chemical modification of cytosine, has now been shown to be stably incorporated in mammalian DNA. 5-formylcytosine (5fC) is found in all tissues, with the highest levels being found in the brain. Its exact function is unknown, but its physical position in the genome suggests that it plays a key role in gene expression.
Brain tumors such as glioblastomas are exceptionally difficult to treat since, irrespective of how they were treated, they find a way to regenerate. This ability can be attributed to cancer stem cells that circumvent treatment and trigger the expansion of new tumor cells. Recently, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered a way to disrupt the regeneration of brain tumors by disrupting a key player in the brain tumor stem cell maintenance process.