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Traits of a mussel transmissible cancer are reminiscent of a parasitic life style

Abstract : Some cancers have evolved the ability to spread from host to host by transmission of cancerous cells. These rare biological entities can be considered parasites with a host-related genome. Still, we know little about their specific adaptation to a parasitic lifestyle. MtrBTN2 is one of the few lineages of transmissible cancers known in the animal kingdom. Reported worldwide, MtrBTN2 infects marine mussels. We isolated MtrBTN2 cells circulating in the hemolymph of cancerous mussels and investigated their phenotypic traits. We found that MtrBTN2 cells had remarkable survival capacities in seawater, much higher than normal hemocytes. With almost 100% cell survival over three days, they increase significantly their chances to infect neighboring hosts. MtrBTN2 also triggered an aggressive cancerous process: proliferation in mussels was ~ 17 times higher than normal hemocytes (mean doubling time of ~ 3 days), thereby favoring a rapid increase of intra-host population size. MtrBTN2 appears to induce host castration, thereby favoring resources re-allocation to the parasites and increasing the host carrying capacity. Altogether, our results highlight a series of traits of MtrBTN2 consistent with a marine parasitic lifestyle that may have contributed to the success of its persistence and dissemination in different mussel populations across the globe.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 21, 2021 - 11:47:21 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 2:11:13 PM

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Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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E. Burioli, M. Hammel, N. Bierne, F. Thomas, M. Houssin, et al.. Traits of a mussel transmissible cancer are reminiscent of a parasitic life style. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 11 (1), pp.24110. ⟨10.1038/s41598-021-03598-w⟩. ⟨hal-03498948⟩

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