Tag Archives: RNA

Study identifies RNA molecule that shields breast cancer stem cells from immune system

Image courtesy of Toni Celià-Terrassa and Yibin Kang, Department of Molecular Biology

Researchers from Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology have identified a small RNA molecule that helps maintain the activity of stem cells in both healthy and cancerous breast tissue. The study, which will be published in the June issue of Nature Cell Biology, suggests that this “microRNA” promotes particularly deadly forms of breast cancer and that inhibiting the effects of this molecule could improve the efficacy of existing breast cancer therapies.

Stem cells give rise to the different cell types in adult tissues but, in order to maintain these tissues throughout adulthood, stem cells must retain their activity for decades. They do this by “self-renewing,” dividing to form additional stem cells, and resisting the effects of environmental signals that would otherwise cause them to prematurely differentiate into other cell types.

Many tumors also contain so-called “cancer stem cells” that can drive tumor formation. Some tumors, such as triple-negative breast cancers, are particularly deadly because they contain large numbers of cancer stem cells that self-renew and resist differentiation.