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Biology of Disease

Please read through each question carefully and provide an answer to each question in the space provided. If you require more space, please use a separate sheet of paper that is clearly marked with your Student ID number and the question number.


1. A researcher investigated the effect of stably expressingthe gene PML on the capacity of FM82 melanomacell line to form spheres, and obtained the data in Figure 1.

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Sphere formation assay from FM82 melanoma cell line. (A) Melanoma-spheres stably-expressing the empty vector(no gene expressed) or PML gene. (B) FM82 empty vector and stably expressing PML spheres-formation.

What is the purpose of performing a sphere formation assay?(10 marks)

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Looking at the data in figure 1 explain the effect of stably expressing the gene PML on the sphere formation capacity of the FM82 cell line. What could be the role of this gene be in this context. (20 marks)

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Explain the difference between a stem cell and a cancer stem cell.(15 marks)

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What is the difference between a cancer stem cell and other cancer cells within a tumour.(15 marks)

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Describe the role of cancer stem cells in cancer initiation and progression.(15 marks)

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Explain the role of cancer stem cells in cancer recurrence following the treatment of patients with chemotherapy. (15 marks)

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  • Johnsen, H. E., Kjeldsen, M. K., Urup, T. et al. (2009) ‘Cancer stem cells and the cellular hierarchy in haematological malignancies’, Eur J Cancer, 45:194–201.
  • Kreso, A. and Dick, J. E. (2014) ‘Evolution of the cancer stem cell model’, Cell Stem Cell, 14:275–91.
  • Baylin, S. B. and Jones, P. A. (2011) ‘A decade of exploring the cancer epigenome - biological and translational implications’, Nat. Rev. Cancer, 11, 726-734.
  • Van Keymeulen, A. and Blanpain, C. (2012) ‘Tracing epithelial stem cells during development, homeostasis, and repair’, J Cell Biol, 197:575–584.

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