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Molecular Cell

What the satellites in your body do

Copies of repetitive DNA sequences called satellite RNAs are high in certain types of cancer, such as breast and ovarian. But whether they cause cancer or merely coincide with it has been unclear. First author and former Salk postdoctoral researcher Quan Zhu, Professor Tony Hunter and colleagues discovered that a specific type of satellite RNA, called hSATa, induces breast cancer by directly interfering with DNA copying and repair. The research suggests that targeting satellite RNAs could provide another approach for treating multiple types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic.

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Cell Reports

Salk scientists shed light on breast cancer

Professor Geoffrey Wahl, first author Raj Giraddi and collaborators used cutting-edge techniques to generate an atlas of the genes expressed in each breast cell from very early in development until adulthood. They used this “single-cell-transcriptome atlas” to compare genes expressed in human breast cancers, which led to an understanding of how the stem cells of the breast arise in early development as well as provided insight into the reprogramming of adult cells into states associated with cancer.

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Nature Genetics

New method of pinpointing cancer mutations could lead to more-targeted treatments

Cancer cells often have DNA mutations that can give scientists clues about how the cancer started or which treatment may be most effective. Finding these mutations can be difficult, but a new method may offer more complete, comprehensive results. Helmsley-Salk Fellow Jesse Dixon and collaborators have developed a new framework that can combine three existing methods of finding these large mutations—called structural variants—into a single, more complete picture. The new method could help researchers find structural variations within cancer cells’ DNA and learn more about how those cancers begin.

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