Pseudouridine Biomarker for Breast Cancer

As you are probably aware, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Everyone from the NFL to Yoplait yogurt seems to be engaged in campaigns for fundraising and awareness. I think it’s great to see the extensive community support for this worthy cause. Since breast cancer awareness is top of mind this month, I thought I’d follow up my latest blog about pseurdouridine with a ‘mini blog’ highlighting some interesting research involving a pseudouridine biomarker for breast cancer.

I’d also like to mention that TriLink is participating in Breast Cancer Awareness month. For every order placed in October, TriLink will dontate $5 to Susan G Komen to support the upcoming 3-Day Walk being held November 20-22 in San Diego.

3day

Biomarkers for Breast Cancer Have Been Known for Over Forty Years

Way back in 1975, Levine et al. first reported that pseudouridine (and N2,N2-dimethylguanosine) was present in sera of patients with breast cancer at elevated levels.  My search of PubMed for this initial finding of a possible analytical link between pseudouridine and breast cancer indicated that it has been followed by a number of different reports, each supporting the inclusion of this modified nucleobase as a biomarker for breast cancer. There have been several other publications involving the use of pseudouridine biomarkers for breast carcinomas. Take a look at the ‘Similar Articles’ section on the right hand side of the page when you click on the link to Levine’s publication.

For those who may not be familiar with this area of research, I’ll give a brief overview. Basically, modified nucleosides may be formed in RNA by chemical modification of normal nucleosides. This modification happens at the post-transcriptional stage and the modified nucleosides are present in some bodily fluids, such as sera and urine, as intact molecules. Elevated levels of these modified nucleosides may indicate the presence of cancer. Thus, tests can be administered to detect these molecules as part of early cancer screening. The challenge here lies in developing a reliable and easy way to do this. Thankfully, some recent studies have shown great promise.

From Slideshare Presentation by Imrana Tanvir

From Slideshare Presentation by Imrana Tanvir

Most interestingly—in my opinion, and especially for fans of modified nucleosides—Jiang & Ma have recently developed a fast capillary electrophoresis (CE) method for separation and quantification of modified nucleosides in urinary samples. They state that “[t]he elevated levels of modified nucleosides in the urine samples have served as potential cancer biomarkers in many studies.” In this paper, CE was applied to urine samples to separate and quantify 10 nucleosides: A, C, G, U and the “mods” inosine, xanthosine, pseudouridine, N2-methylguanosine, 1-methyladenosine, and N2,N2-dimethylguanosine. Jiang & Ma claim that, ‘The technique developed in this study is much simpler and faster, compared to previous studies, and can be used to quantify modified nucleosides in urine samples.”

This research is very impressive and undoubtedly of use for further development of pseudouridine and other modified nucleobases as biomarkers for breast cancer. If you are familiar with this field and can elaborate on any current biomarker tests for breast cancer, please do so in the comments below. We would all love to hear more about developing research in this field. 

giantsAs a side note, I still have 2 copies of Stephen Hawking’s book, On the Shoulders of Giants to give away. Comment on this blog by October 19 and you’ll be in the running to win one of these books. Check back on October 20 to see if you’re a winner!

Congratulations to Kristin, John and Bart who each won a copy of the book for commenting on my September 29 post, Profiling Pseudouridine.