Bread, Beer, and Cell Biology: What Has Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Taught Us About Cancer?

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Bread, Beer and Cell Biology – What has Saccharomyces cerevisiae taught us about cancer?
The modern civilization has become dependent upon yeast. Without yeast we would lose one of the most fundamental grains (bread) as well as the choice drink of many, beer. More importantly though Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a model eukaryotic organism for understanding cancer at a cellular level, from it we have learned how to identify cells with an elevated potential to become cancerous, are able to study cancerous characteristics and can test cancer treatments on yeast. (Nitiss & Heitman, 2007; Sheltzer et al, 2011) Yeast has been key to many cancer advancements in this world.
Research on yeast cells shows that certain cells are predestined to evolve into cancer cells. One study found that aneuploidy in cells lead to genomic instability and that this genomic instability correlated to an elevated rate of cancer development. (Sheltzer et al, 2011) Aneuploidy as well results in recombination defects and defective DNA repair which again in many cases leads to cancer. (Sheltzer et al, 2011) When these cells are identified in humans measures can be taken to prevent cancer. Such as by eliminating these cells before they become cancerous or regular check-ups to see if the pro-oncocells have developed into oncocells. Early detection of these cells saves lives.
Cancerous characteristics of Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells can be observed by scientists and compared to those of human cancer cells. From these studies we now know several causes of cell proliferation that create cancer. For example in many cases of cancer, it arises from a cell cycle control malfunction. (Palermo & Walworth, 2007) Many factors assist in controlling cell cycle checkpoints if a single one of these factors suffers a mutation then uncontrolled cell division can arise. Even though yeast is a simple organism its cell cycle still functions very similarly to that of the human cell cycle. (Palermo & Walworth,



References: Nitiss, J. L., & Heitman, J. (2007). Yeast as a tool in cancer research. (p. 440). Dordretch, The Netherlands: Springer. Palermo, C., & Walworth, N. C. (2007). Yeast as a model system for studying cell cycle checkpoints. (Master 's thesis, The State University of New Jersey). Rohde, J. R., Zurita-Martinez, S. A., & Cardenas, M. E. (2007). Yeast as a model to study the immunosuppressive and chemotherapeutic drug rapamycin. (Master 's thesis, Duke University Medical Center). Sheltzer, J. M., Blank, H. M., Pfau, S. J., Tange, Y., George, B. M., Humpton, T. J., Brito, I. L., & Hiraoka, Y., Niwa, O., Amon, A. (2011). Aneuploidy drives genomic instability in yeast. Science AAAS, 333(6045), 1026-1300. doi: 10.1126/science.1206412

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