A set of proteins have been discovered by the scientists at the National Institutes of Health. These proteins are the part of the body’s natural defenses (immune system) that cause mutations in human DNA. According to this study, it could potentially lead to cancer. The researchers have said that these naturally occurring mutations are just as powerful as known cancer-causing agents in producing tumours.
The proteins belong to a group called apolipoprotein B mRNA like (APOBEC) cytidine deaminases. The researchers 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 tumours. Scientists have published this study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D., a senior associate scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH has said that the 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. 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.
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