Novel Mitochondrial Biomarker Discovered for Colorectal Cancer

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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A study recently published in the journal Diagnostic Pathology revealed a new potential mitochondrial biomarker for colorectal cancer. The study is entitled “Mitochondrial A12308G alteration in tRNA Leu (CUN) in colorectal cancer samples” and was conducted by researchers at Kuwait University in Kuwait and Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mazandaran University and National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NIGEB) in Iran.

Colorectal cancer is a common malignancy that usually develops from abnormal growths (polyps) in the inner walls of the large intestine. Screening and polyp removal can prevent the disease. Colorectal cancer is strongly associated with age, with nearly three-quarters of the cases being reported in individuals aged 65 or older. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and United Kingdom.

tRNA genes are crucial for the biological synthesis of new proteins. Mutations or polymorphisms in mitochondrial tRNA genes have been considered a useful biomarker for different cancers, as defects in mitochondrial function have been suggested to have an impact on the development and progression of cancer, including colon, lung, liver, brain, kidney, bladder, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers, among others. In the study, researchers assessed the possible link between colorectal cancer and the mitochondrial A12308G alteration in tRNA Leu (CUN), as well as its utility as a disease biomarker.

The team analyzed tumor samples from 30 patients with colorectal cancer for the A12308G alteration in tRNA Leu (CUN). As controls, blood samples from healthy individuals were analyzed.

Researchers found that the A12308G mutation in tRNA Leu (CUN) was present in six colorectal cancer samples and three healthy controls. Statistical analysis revealed that a significant association was present between A12308G mutation and colorectal cancer.

The research team concluded that the A12308G mutation in the mitochondrial tRNA Leu (CUN) was linked to colorectal cancer development, and that it could be potentially used as a biomarker allowing an early diagnosis of the cancer. The team believes that the association between the A12308G mutation and other mutations or factors can lead to different disease phenotypes. The authors emphasize that further research is necessary to better understand the role played by the mitochondrial A12308G mutation in the carcinogenesis process.