Illuminating Tumor Cells with Dark Proteins

Columbia researchers have shined new light on how the “dark” part of the genome allows cancer cells to be detected by the immune system, which could lead to better immunotherapies.

The immune system recognizes cancer cells by the cells’ tumor-specific antigens, fragments of degraded proteins uniquely found on the surface of cancer cells. Previous studies have shown that the vast majority of tumor-specific antigens are produced from the noncoding genome, the “dark” part of the genome that scientists believed, until recently, did not code for any protein.

How tumor cells display fragments of these “dark” proteins was an open question, now answered in a new  study(link is external and opens in a new window)  published this week in Nature by  Xuebing Wu, PhD , assistant professor of medicine and systems biology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and his team.

Read  full article  on Columbia University Irving Medical Center News page.