The awarded study, led by Dr. Maribel Parra and signed by Ainara Meler and Alba Azagra, member of the same group at the time of publication, describes the role played by the HDAC7 gene in epigenetic regulation during the development of B lymphocytes. Specifically, the researchers have discovered that loss of HDAC7 promotes chromatin decondensation, aberrant expression of inappropriate genes, microRNAs and LINE-1 transposable elements. Together, these alterations contribute to the loss of B lymphocyte internal regulation and could lead to the initiation of an oncogenic transformation process.
The results of the research, published last August in the specialized journal Nucleic Acids Research, a reference in the field of gene regulation, provide a better understanding of one of the pillars of the immune system, the B lymphocyte, the main producer of antibodies, and help to contextualize the importance of the HDAC7 gene in the development of hematological cancers, in which elements of the immune system are very often involved.
Although Dr. Parra's laboratory had previously demonstrated that the HDAC7 protein is necessary for the correct development of B-lymphocytes in the bone marrow, in the award-winning publication they have gone a step further. Parra explains that "we have deepened our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that HDAC7 exerts in healthy cells, which may lead in the future to the development of new personalized medicine therapies in patients with hematological cancers".
"Knowing how HDAC7 works helps us to understand what happens in an aberrant lymphocyte that does not have it," says Meler, and she is grateful that the Catalan Society of Immunology "has recognized this work that we have carried out during four very intense years with Alba Azagra. Receiving this award is one more motivation to continue doing research in the field of immunology".
The recognition of the Catalan Society of Immunology confirms that the future of cancer research is assured and from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute we can only say: Congratulations, Ainara!