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A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils

A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils
A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils
Clonally transmissible cancers are somatic cell lineages that are spread between individuals via the transfer of living cancer cells. There are only three known naturally occurring transmissible cancers, and these affect dogs, soft-shell clams, and Tasmanian devils, respectively. The Tasmanian devil transmissible facial cancer was first observed in 1996, and is threatening its host species with extinction. Until now, this disease has been consistently associated with a single aneuploid cancer cell lineage that we refer to as DFT1. Here we describe a second transmissible cancer, DFT2, in five devils located in southern Tasmania in 2014 and 2015. DFT2 causes facial tumors that are grossly indistinguishable but histologically distinct from those caused by DFT1. DFT2 bears no detectable cytogenetic similarity to DFT1 and carries a Y chromosome, which contrasts with the female origin of DFT1. DFT2 shows different alleles to both its hosts and DFT1 at microsatellite, structural variant, and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) loci, confirming that it is a second cancer that can be transmitted between devils as an allogeneic, MHC-discordant graft. These findings indicate that Tasmanian devils have spawned at least two distinct transmissible cancer lineages and suggest that transmissible cancers may arise more frequently in nature than previously considered. The discovery of DFT2 presents important challenges for the conservation of Tasmanian devils and raises the possibility that this species is particularly prone to the emergence of transmissible cancers. More generally, our findings highlight the potential for cancer cells to depart from their hosts and become dangerous transmissible pathogens.
0027-8424
374-379
Pye, Ruth J.
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Pemberton, David
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Tovar, Cesar
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Tubio, Jose M.C.
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Dun, Karen A.
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Fox, Samantha
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Darby, Jocelyn
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Hayes, Dane
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Knowles, Graeme W.
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Kreiss, Alexandre
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Siddle, Hannah V.T.
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Swift, Kate
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Lyons, A. Bruce
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Murchison, Elizabeth P.
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Woods, Gregory M.
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Pye, Ruth J.
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Pemberton, David
a8871b77-3e34-4905-b8d5-5d35f7272784
Tovar, Cesar
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Tubio, Jose M.C.
d08087b4-aa05-4661-98b0-15b33c6ff932
Dun, Karen A.
8dc2b29d-3377-49a4-a74c-83f9f25c4b82
Fox, Samantha
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Darby, Jocelyn
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Hayes, Dane
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Knowles, Graeme W.
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Kreiss, Alexandre
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Siddle, Hannah V.T.
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Swift, Kate
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Lyons, A. Bruce
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Murchison, Elizabeth P.
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Woods, Gregory M.
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Pye, Ruth J., Pemberton, David, Tovar, Cesar, Tubio, Jose M.C., Dun, Karen A., Fox, Samantha, Darby, Jocelyn, Hayes, Dane, Knowles, Graeme W., Kreiss, Alexandre, Siddle, Hannah V.T., Swift, Kate, Lyons, A. Bruce, Murchison, Elizabeth P. and Woods, Gregory M. (2016) A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (2), 374-379. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1519691113).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Clonally transmissible cancers are somatic cell lineages that are spread between individuals via the transfer of living cancer cells. There are only three known naturally occurring transmissible cancers, and these affect dogs, soft-shell clams, and Tasmanian devils, respectively. The Tasmanian devil transmissible facial cancer was first observed in 1996, and is threatening its host species with extinction. Until now, this disease has been consistently associated with a single aneuploid cancer cell lineage that we refer to as DFT1. Here we describe a second transmissible cancer, DFT2, in five devils located in southern Tasmania in 2014 and 2015. DFT2 causes facial tumors that are grossly indistinguishable but histologically distinct from those caused by DFT1. DFT2 bears no detectable cytogenetic similarity to DFT1 and carries a Y chromosome, which contrasts with the female origin of DFT1. DFT2 shows different alleles to both its hosts and DFT1 at microsatellite, structural variant, and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) loci, confirming that it is a second cancer that can be transmitted between devils as an allogeneic, MHC-discordant graft. These findings indicate that Tasmanian devils have spawned at least two distinct transmissible cancer lineages and suggest that transmissible cancers may arise more frequently in nature than previously considered. The discovery of DFT2 presents important challenges for the conservation of Tasmanian devils and raises the possibility that this species is particularly prone to the emergence of transmissible cancers. More generally, our findings highlight the potential for cancer cells to depart from their hosts and become dangerous transmissible pathogens.

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Accepted/In Press date: 30 November 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: 28 December 2015
Published date: 12 January 2016
Organisations: Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Biological Sciences

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Local EPrints ID: 391921
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/391921
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: 16d4a16b-5928-4d1c-b7f6-2ce2814ae89a

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Date deposited: 13 Apr 2016 13:01
Last modified: 03 Feb 2020 17:34

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Contributors

Author: Ruth J. Pye
Author: David Pemberton
Author: Cesar Tovar
Author: Jose M.C. Tubio
Author: Karen A. Dun
Author: Samantha Fox
Author: Jocelyn Darby
Author: Dane Hayes
Author: Graeme W. Knowles
Author: Alexandre Kreiss
Author: Kate Swift
Author: A. Bruce Lyons
Author: Elizabeth P. Murchison
Author: Gregory M. Woods

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