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Getting down to cancer basics
Date:3/29/2009

pproaches. These results indicate that cancer genes are not restricted to 'classical' roles of survival and cell proliferation, but can affect a variety of other cellular mechanisms," explains Professor Victor Velculescu, Associate Professor of Oncology and Director of Cancer Genetics from the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and co-Director of Cancer Biology, at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. "UTX wouldn't have been found without this high-throughput type of study and indicates the type of novel findings we might expect from the International Cancer Genome Consortium."

The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) seeks to catalogue genetic abnormalities in 50 different tumour types. The possibility of uncovering new regulatory genes - like UTX - along with continued efforts to catalog cancer genes, will boost researchers' attempts to comprehensively describe different cancers which will to lead to expanding opportunities to reduce the global cancer burden.

The team showed that the biology of the mutation fitted their prediction. Cells that lacked a functional UTX gene showed notable slowing of growth when a copy of normal UTX was reintroduced. As well, substantial changes in gene transcription were noted. Genes with the most significant changes in expression were highly enriched in those most susceptible to control by UTX mediated histone modification.

The work identifies a new class of cancer genes that researchers can now pursue. These are genes that occupy the central control position of gene activity and act to keep cells from turning cancerous. When such 'tumor suppressor genes' are inactivated, other genes can run riot.

The consequence of mutation in UTX is to bring about changes in activity of other genes through epigenetic changes - their activity is changed by modification, not of their DNA code, but of their associated proteins and chemical tags.

"This is a genetic change with consequences at the leve
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Contact: Don Powell
don@sanger.ac.uk
44-122-349-6928
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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