Washington July 15 (ANI): A set of proteins involved in the body's natural defences produces a large number of DNA mutations which results in the formation of tumours, a new study has revealed.
The research conducted by the National Institutes of Health has found that APOBEC mutations can outnumber all other mutations in some cancers, accounting for over two-thirds in some bladder, cervical, breast, head and neck, and lung tumors.
Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D., corresponding author of the paper, said that scientists knew the main functions of APOBEC cytosine deaminases were to inactivate viruses that attack the body and prevent ancient viruses present in the human genome from moving around and causing disrupting mutations.
Because they are so important to normal physiology, he and his collaborators were surprised to find a dark side to them - that of mutating human chromosomal DNA.
Using APOBEC's distinctive DNA mutational signature, the team of researchers examined approximately 1 million mutations in 2,680 cancer samples, and found that, in some tumors, nearly 70 percent of mutations in a given specimen resulted from APOBEC mutagenesis.
The mutation pattern, which appeared in clusters and individual mutations, could affect many cancer-associated genes.
The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics on July 14. (ANI)