central nervous system cancers
Inside our cells, strands of DNA wrap around spool-like histone proteins to form a DNA-histone complex called chromatin. Bradley Bernstein, a pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, and Broad Institute, has always been fascinated by this process. What interests him is the fact that an approximately 6-foot-long strand of DNA can be folded and packed into orderly chromatin structures inside a cell nucleus that’s just 0.0002 inch wide.
Bernstein’s fascination with DNA packaging led to the recent major discovery that, when chromatin misfolds in brain cells, it can activate a gene associated with the cancer glioma . This suggested a new cancer-causing mechanism that does not require specific DNA mutations. Now, with a 2016 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, Bernstein is taking a closer look at how misfolded and unstable chromatin can drive tumor formation, and what that means for treating cancer.
Tags: 2016 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, astrocytoma, brain cancer, cancer, cancer epigenetics, cancer epigenome, central nervous system cancers, chromatin, chromatin structure, DNA, DNA folding, DNA methylation, DNA packaging, epigenetics, epigenome, epigenomics, glioblastoma, glioma, histones