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Connecting cancer genes
Date:5/15/2008

A large genetic study in mice has identified hundreds of genes involved in the development of cancer by examining the DNA of more than 500 lymphomas to find the cancer causing mutations.

The study found just over 10,000 mutations in total, which together implicate almost 350 regions in the mouse genome in cancer formation. 50 of these regions correspond to genes known to be involved in human cancers while the other regions were novel, adding to our picture of the complex set of diseases that are cancers.

The results were obtained by an international consortium of researchers, led by Drs Anton Berns, Maarten van Lohuizen and Lodewyk Wessels from the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), and Dr David Adams, Experimental Cancer Genetics, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and are published in Cell.

The team used a virus called the murine leukaemia virus to produce mutations in cancer genes: the virus targets white blood cells, resulting in lymphoma, a common tumour of the blood system.

"Human cancers are generally thought to be formed by the stepwise accumulation of mutations that disrupt genes within a cell, and the virus mimics this process as it inserts itself into the mouse genome," explains Dr David Adams, senior author on the paper. "The virus then acts as a 'tag', allowing us to identify where it has integrated and which gene or genes have been disrupted.

"By finding an average of 20 mutations from each of the 500 tumours, not only did we find many new cancer genes, but we can see which genes work together in the same cell to transform it into a lymphoma." Said Dr. Jaap Kool, co-first author on the paper from the NKI.

The infected mouse lines carried mutations in genes called p53 and p19, which are known to suppress the development of cancer and are among the most commonly mutated genes in human cancers. The team were able to identify a rich set of novel genes implicated in cancer, includi
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Contact: Don Powell
don@sanger.ac.uk
44-012-234-96928
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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