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Cells that divide abnormally are starved of the building blocks needed to make DNA, placing stress on DNA replication, introducing mutations and destabilizing chromosomes. These could be some of the earliest events to occur in cancer, which is marked by widespread DNA damage.
Batsheva Kerem at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and her colleagues found that activating a cancer-promoting pathway in human cells grown in culture decreased cellular levels of nucleotides — the chemical building blocks of DNA. Adding the building blocks to the cells reduced DNA damage and decreased the frequency with which cells became cancerous. DNA damage also lessened when the researchers increased the transcription of genes involved in nucleotide biosynthesis.
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Cells stressed from hunger. Nature 474, 9 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/474009e