'Junk DNA' Reveals Ovarian Cancer Oncogene

First Posted: Sep 08, 2014 09:27 AM EDT

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have now discovered a non-protein-coding RNA that's expression is linked to ovarian cancer.

While study authors are still working to explain and fully understand the functionality of these non-protein RNAs given their expansive numbers in the human genome, they now believe that they likely play important roles in normal human development, along with the overall response to disease in general.

"This is the first genome-wide study to use bioinformatics and clinical information to systematically identify one lncRNA, which we found to be oncogenic," said lead researcher Lin Zhang, PhD, research associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in a news release.

For the findings, researchers built a DNA copy number profile of close to 14,000 long non-coding RNA across 12 different cancer types, including ovarian and breast cancers. The copies of non-coding RNA, also known as IncRNA, genes visible on the chromosomes consistently changed in the 12 different types of cancer cells studied.

Researchers believe that along with future research, this could reveal more about a molecular mechanism that results in an increased risk of Ovarian cancer, particularly involving the FAL1 gene.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Cancer Cell.

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