A collaborative research group consisting of Sa Kan Yoo, team leader (primary researcher of the Homeodynamics Research Team at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, Visiting Associate Professor at the Kwansei Gakuin University School of Science and Technology), Ayaka Sasaki, trainee (at the time of the research) in the Yoo Physiological Genetics Laboratory at the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research, Tomomi Takano, a technical staff member of the Homeodynamics Research Team at the Center Biosystems Dynamics Research, and Takashi Nishimura, a team leader of the Growth Control Signaling Research Team (at the time of the research), have used Drosophila to discover the molecular mechanism by which intestinal stem cells (intestinal stem cells) proliferate excessively and become cancerous as they age.
Since tissue maintenance and oncogenesis by stem cells are observed in both Drosophila and mammals, the results of this study are expected to contribute to the elucidation of the mechanism of oncogenesis associated with aging in humans in the future.
Cancer of intestinal stem cells is known to be one of the causes of death in aging Drosophila. In this study, the joint research group investigated the cause of the excessive increase in intestinal stem cells during aging, and focused on white, the first white-eye variant discovered in Drosophila. They found that the expression of the white gene is increased in intestinal stem cells of wild-type aged individuals, resulting in the accumulation of folate metabolites and cell overgrowth. Furthermore, they found that suppressing the function of the white gene or the accumulation of folate metabolites suppressed the cancerous transformation of intestinal stem cells and increased the lifespan of the individuals.
This research was published in the online edition of the scientific journal Nature Metabolism on April 5 (April 6, Japan time).