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Formation of breast cancer


Identifying genes
Renato Dulbecco Scientist
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The most important and interesting gene is a gene that is present, for example, in humans, is present in lymphocytes, certain types of lymphocytes, on the surface, so that it is a gene that controls the condition of the surface of the cells. Naturally, when these domes are formed, the surface changes because the cells strongly attach and then we have shown this. So we concentrated on this gene and it was interesting because if we take the cells that do not form domes, the protein produced by this gene, is only present in the centre of the cell, this is called Golgi Apparatus, because it is a study of the production of proteins, therefore it stays there, it doesn't move from there. If we use an inductor, which induces we have several of them the formation of these domes, we see that this protein now migrates outside and localises on the surface of the cells. However, you see, this accompanies the formation of domes. If this doesn't happen, the domes do not form therefore this gene has this function. It is a physiological function, nothing to do with cancer, it is only to understand the physiological function of this gene. Then we identified half a dozen genes that had both a positive and negative action, so we were obtaining a lot of data and it is enough for now...

[Q] At the same time were there experts? Or was there only you? Just this group that was doing it or were there others?

We were concentrating on this type. There were others working on other aspects; this here was ours. We had all that we needed, the necessary knowledge, all the genes, we had built an entire background, you see.

Il gene più importante e interessante è un gene che è presente, per esempio, nell'uomo, è presente nei linfociti, certi tipi di linfociti, alla superficie, per cui è un gene che controlla lo stato della superficie delle cellule. Naturalmente, quando si formano questi 'domes', la superficie cambia, perché le cellule aderiscono fortemente e poi questo lo abbiamo dimostrato. Per cui ci siamo concentrati su questo gene e risulta interessante, perché se noi prendiamo delle cellule che non formano 'domes', la proteina prodotta da questo gene, è presente solo al centro della cellula, quello si chiama l'apparato di Golgi, perché è uno stadio della produzione delle proteine, però rimane lì, non si muove da lì. Se noi usiamo un induttore, che induca che ne abbiamo parecchi la formazione di questi 'domes', queste cupole, vediamo che questa proteina adesso migra fuori e va a localizzarsi alla superficie delle cellule. Quindi, vedi, quello accompagna la formazione dei 'domes'. Se non avviene quello, i 'domes' non si formano; perciò questo gene, ha questa funzione. È una funzione fisiologica, niente a che fare col cancro, è solo per capire la funzione fisiologica di questo gene. Poi abbiamo identificato una mezza dozzina di geni che hanno un'azione sia positiva sia negativa, insomma la cosa stava diventando molto ricca di dati ed è abbastanza al giorno d'oggi...

[Q] Ma in contemporanea c'erano degli esperti? Eri solo tu? Voi quel gruppo che lo faceva o in contemporanea anche altri?

Noi ci concentravamo su quel tipo. Ci sono poi altri che si concentrano su altri aspetti; questo qui era il nostro. Avevamo tutto il necessario, le conoscenze necessarie, tutti i geni, avevamo costruito tutto questo background, capisci così.

The Italian biologist Renato Dulbecco (1914-2012) had early success isolating a mutant of the polio virus which was used to create a life-saving vaccine. Later in his career, he initiated the Human Genome Project and was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1975 for furthering our understanding of cancer caused by viruses.

Listeners: Paola De Paoli Marchetti

Paola De Paoli Marchetti is a science journalist who graduated with an honours degree in foreign languages and literature from the University Ca’Foscari, Venice. She has been a science journalist since the 1960s and has been on the staff of the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore since 1970. She was elected president of UGIS (Italian Association of Science Journalists) in 1984. She has been a Member of the Board of EUSJA (European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, Strasbourg), and was its president in 1987-1988 and 1998-2000. In May 2000 she was unanimously elected president emeritus. She was a member of the National Council of Italian Journalists (1992-1998). From 2002 to 2004 she was member of the working group for scientific communication of the National Committee for Biotechnology. She has also been a consultant at the Italian Ministry of Research and Technology and editor-in-chief of the publication MRST, policy of science and technology. She has co-authored many publications in the field of scientific information, including Le biotecnologie in Italia, Le piste della ricerca and Luna vent’anni dopo.

Tags: Golgi Apparatus, cells, human genes, domes, cancer, protein

Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008