IMAGE: During the Kaikoura earthquake, the Leader landslide (center foreground) travelled approximately 1 kilometer, leaving a clear scar in the hillside (center background). The landslide blocked the Leader River and formed… view more
Credit: Tom Robinson
DURHAM, N.C. – Tumors are notoriously mixed up; cells from one part often express different genes and adopt different sizes and shapes than cells from another part of that same tumor.
Still, a team of researchers were surprised when they recently spotted a miniature stomach, duodenum, and small intestine hidden among the cells of lung tumor samples.
They discovered that these cells had lost a gene called NKX2-1 that acts as a master switch, flipping a network of genes to set the course for a lung cell. Without it, the cells follow the path of their nearest developmental neighbor — the gut — much like a train jumping tracks when a railroad switch fails.
The findings, published March 26 in the journal Developmental Cell, underscore the amazing resilience and plasticity of cancer cells. Such plasticity can presumably enable tumors to develop drug resistance, arguably the biggest challenge to successful cancer treatment.
“Cancer cells will do whatever it takes to survive,” said Purushothama Rao
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