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Smoking & Gene Expression

September 2, 2010

Smoking alters the expression of over 300 genes.


Smoking and gene function. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Smoking changes the operation of 323 distinct genes. This according to the largest study of its kind, by the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio. Lead author Jac Charlesworth, now at the University of Tasmania in Australia, says the number of affected genes was even larger than they expected. Many were involved in known smoking-related health problems.

JAC CHARLESWORTH (Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania):
Of the 323 genes, there were more than 70 that are known to be involved in causing cancer, tumorogenesis.

Other big themes included immunity, cell death, and inflammation. Still, Charlesworth says the results include some puzzles. One of the strongest correlations, for example, was to a gene that scientists know almost nothing about. Learning its function may shed more light on smoking-related illness. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.