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BIO404: Cancer Biology

Unit 4: Death and Life: Apoptosis and Immortality   The process through which cells that are defective, old, or no longer necessary are programmed to die is a tremendously important one.  Apoptosis (programmed cell death) occurs in embryos going through complex cell movements and rearrangements and in adults going through the normal cycle of cell metabolism.  This process of dying is altered in cancer cells, as are the processes that limit the number of times a cell can proliferate, leading to what can be described as an “immortal” cell.  Such a cell is no longer responsive to “suicide” cues and no longer capable of undergoing replicative senescence (the cessation of division).  The result of this unstoppable cell’s proliferation is the development of a tumor.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit will take approximately 10 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 3.5 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Describe the process of apoptosis, including the role of death receptors and its role in cancer. - Outline the causes of immortality and the role that it plays in cancer. - Explain the significant impact that the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks have had on the medical and scientific community. - List the steps in the tumor development. - Differentiate between hyperplasia, dysplasia, and anaplasia.

4.1 Apoptosis   4.1.1 The Apoptosis Pathway   - Reading: Saylor Foundation’s “Apoptosis” Link: Saylor Foundation’s “Apoptosis” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this short overview of apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death.  This is a very complex process, with multiple steps.

4.1.2 "Death Receptors"   - Reading: Maria Eugenia Guicciardi and Gregory J. Gores’ “Life and death by death receptors” Link: Maria Eugenia Guicciardi and Gregory J. Gores’ “Life and death by death receptors” (PDF)
 
Instructions:  Click on Full Text or Full Text (PDF) to the right to access the article.  This is an excellent review article about death receptors.
 
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4.1.3 Mutations to the Pathway   - Reading: Biotech Articles: Robby Kumar’s “Apoptosis and Cancer: A Review” Link:  Biotech Articles: Robby Kumar’s “Apoptosis and Cancer: A Review” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Scroll down to read this short article about the role that apoptosis plays in cancer.
 
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4.2 Immortality   4.2.1 Normal Limits on Proliferation   - Reading: Times Higher Education’s “Life Span of Human Cells Defined: Most Cells Are Younger than the Individual” Link:  Times Higher Education’s “Life Span of Human Cells Defined: Most Cells Are Younger than the Individual” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  About half way down this article, normal human cell life spans are given.  Keep in mind that the live span described here is a normal cell and not one that suffers from disease.
 
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4.2.2 Telomeres and Telomerase   - Reading: Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry: Dr. Brad E. Windle’s “Telomerase: Target of Immortality” Link:  Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry: Dr. Brad E. Windle’s “Telomerase: Target of Immortality” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  This site does a great job describing the role of telomerase in immortality.
 
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  • Web Media: C-Span’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” Link:  C-Span’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions:  View this video interview (34:27 minutes) about the first immortalized cell line, known as HeLa cells, taken from African-American Henrietta Lacks.  Author Rebecca Skloot, who wrote the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, thoroughly discusses Henrietta and her immortal cervical cells in this interview.  Johns Hopkins took these cells from Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge or consent.  HeLa cells have been one of the greatest tools in research leading to numerous medical and scientific discoveries.    
     
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4.3 Tumorigenesis   4.3.1 Hyperplasia and Dysplasia   - Web Media: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Cancer Formation” Link:  Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Cancer Formation” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Read the section titled Cancer Initiation, Promotion, and Progression, and then click next to view the second page titled Stages of Tumor Development.
 
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  • Assessment: Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Test Your Knowledge on Cancer Formation” Link:  Emory University’s CancerQuest: “Test Your Knowledge on Cancer Formation” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Click on the question mark to the left to open the ten-question quiz about cancer formation.  Keep taking the quiz until you get them all correct.
     
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  • Web Media: Mercer University’s School of Medicine: WebPath’s “Neoplasia” Link:  Mercer University’s School of Medicine: WebPath’s “Neoplasia” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: WebPath covers numerous pathological processes, including the development of cancer or neoplasia.  This module covers important features of tumor formation including hyperplasia (the overproduction of normal cells, which can be normal or abnormal) and the conversion to metaplasia, and dysplasia.  Please view slides 1–30, paying particular attention to the images. 
     
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4.3.2 Anaplasia   - Reading: University of South Carolina’s “Anaplasia” Link:  University of South Carolina’s “Anaplasia” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Read this one page summary of anaplasia.  Notice how the cell actually de-differentiates in this process.
 
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  • Web Media: Mercer University’s School of Medicine: WebPath’s “Neoplasia” Link: Mercer University’s School of Medicine: WebPath’s “Neoplasia” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: WebPath covers numerous pathological processes, including the development of cancer or neoplasia.  This module covers important features of tumor formation including anaplasia.  View image 52, and notice the lack of development of the cells. 
     
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