Now, a team of researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin has shown that the Quaking gene likely suppresses tumor growth by inhibiting production of a protein associated with GLI1, a cancer-causing oncogene highly associated with severe birth defects and several childhood cancers.
The group's study, published in the Nov. 1 online issue of Developmental Biology, details the discovery of an important and completely novel form of regulation of the GLI1 gene.
"Results of the study open a new research direction for issues ranging from cancer formation to environmental interactions in development and will point the way to similar mechanisms of control in other genes," said Philip M. Iannaccone, M.D., who led the study.
Iannaccone is George M. Eisenberg Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and deputy director for basic research at Children's Memorial Research Center.
Development occurs as a coordinated series of genetic control events that create proliferation of cells, signals for further differentiation, proteins that define cellular function and "programmed" movement of cells into developing structures.
These processes, known as pattern formation, are controlled largely by networks of genes and proteins called signal transduction pathways that receive signals from outside of the cell in the form of protein interaction with the cell surface. Through a series of intracellular events, these signals trigger gene activation or repression through action of transcription factors in the nucleus of the cell.
The altered gene expression profile then results in cellular differentiation, cellular proliferation or cellular death as pattern formation proceeds.
An important signal transduction pa