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A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils

Citation

Pye, RJ and Pemberton, D and Tovar, C and Tubio, JM and Dun, KA and Fox, S and Darby, J and Hayes, D and Knowles, GW and Kreiss, A and Siddle, HVT and Swift, K and Lyons, AB and Murchison, EP and Woods, GM, A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, (2) pp. 374-379. ISSN 0027-8424 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1519691113

Abstract

Clonally transmissible cancers are somatic cell lineages that are spread between individuals via the transfer of living cancer cells. There are only three known naturally occurring transmissible cancers, and these affect dogs, soft-shell clams, and Tasmanian devils, respectively. The Tasmanian devil transmissible facial cancer was first observed in 1996, and is threatening its host species with extinction. Until now, this disease has been consistently associated with a single aneuploid cancer cell lineage that we refer to as DFT1. Here we describe a second transmissible cancer, DFT2, in five devils located in southern Tasmania in 2014 and 2015. DFT2 causes facial tumors that are grossly indistinguishable but histologically distinct from those caused by DFT1. DFT2 bears no detectable cytogenetic similarity to DFT1 and carries a Y chromosome, which contrasts with the female origin of DFT1. DFT2 shows different alleles to both its hosts and DFT1 at microsatellite, structural variant, and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) loci, confirming that it is a second cancer that can be transmitted between devils as an allogeneic, MHC-discordant graft. These findings indicate that Tasmanian devils have spawned at least two distinct transmissible cancer lineages and suggest that transmissible cancers may arise more frequently in nature than previously considered. The discovery of DFT2 presents important challenges for the conservation of Tasmanian devils and raises the possibility that this species is particularly prone to the emergence of transmissible cancers. More generally, our findings highlight the potential for cancer cells to depart from their hosts and become dangerous transmissible pathogens.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Tasmanian devil, Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease, contagious cancer, transmissible cancer
Research Division:Medical and Health Sciences
Research Group:Immunology
Research Field:Cellular Immunology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions)
Objective Field:Immune System and Allergy
Author:Pye, RJ (Dr Ruth Pye)
Author:Tovar, C (Dr Cesar Tovar Lopez)
Author:Darby, J (Ms Jocelyn Darby)
Author:Kreiss, A (Dr Alexandre Kreiss)
Author:Lyons, AB (Dr Bruce Lyons)
Author:Woods, GM (Professor Gregory Woods)
ID Code:105519
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-01-06
Last Modified:2017-11-07
Downloads:0

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