Journal article

Evolution of a contagious cancer: epigenetic variation in Devil Facial Tumour Disease

Beata Ujvari, Anne-Maree Pearse, Sarah Peck, Collette Harmsen, Robyn Taylor, Stephen Pyecroft, Thomas Madsen, Anthony T Papenfuss, Katherine Belov

PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES | ROYAL SOC | Published : 2013

Abstract

The emergence of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), a highly contagious cancer, is driving Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) to extinction. The cancer is a genetically and chromosomally stable clonal cell line which is transmitted by biting during social interactions. In the present study, we explore the Devil Facial Tumour (DFT) epigenome and the genes involved in DNA methylation homeostasis. We show that tumour cells have similar levels of methylation to peripheral nerves, the tissue from which DFTD originated. We did not observe any strain or region-specific epimutations. However, we revealed a significant increase in hypomethylation in DFT samples over time (p < 0.0001). We propos..

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University of Melbourne Researchers

Grants

Funding Acknowledgements

The AFLP analyses were initiated by Nolan Fox (DPIPWE), and we are grateful for access to his preliminary data. We thank the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, and researchers from the School of Zoology at the University of Tasmania for collecting samples. We are grateful to Tracey Catherine Russell, Dr Menna Jones and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. This research was funded by the Australian Research Council, the University of Sydney, an Eric Guiler grant from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal and the DPIPWE. K.B. is supported by an ARC Future Fellowship.