David Botstein, "Yeast, Evolution, and Cancer"

Mar 11, 2013 (Mon) | 4:00 PM -6:00 PM
393 Serra Mall, Herrin T-175 : Stanford, CA

There is a broad consensus that cancer is the result of somatic cells having serially gained, by a series of mutations, the ability to grow independently, to recruit resources from the circulation and the stroma, to invade local tissues, and to found anatomically distant metastases, ultimately killing the host. From the point of view of the cancer-causing somatic cell population, this is evolution driven by mutation and selection. Genomics has resulted in a parallel consensus that the central functions of all eukaryotes are highly conserved, not only at the level of individual protein functions, but also complex biological pathways and systems. These ideas motivated a comparison between results of molecular genetic studies of experimental evolution in yeast and the molecular genetic phenomena associated with tumorigenesis and tumor progression. We find some very striking similarities, including recurring genomic rearrangements, alterations of the regulation of specific growth-promoting genes, population-genetic features that affect the fitness trajectories of growth rate variants in evolving populations, and physiological and metabolic similarities derived from the conservation of the basic plan of growth and cell multiplication among all eukaryotes. It is hoped that some of the insights from yeast will aid the interpretation of sequence changes found in tumors, especially in the urgent necessity to distinguish ‘driver’ from ‘passenger’ mutations.”

Department:  Biology

Contact: Maria Magana-Lopez | (650)723-2414 |


  • David Botstein Princeton University