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Gene linked to worse outcomes for melanoma
Date:2/19/2013

Dr Bergamaschi said: "We did not expect to find the TP63 gene expressed in melanoma. It is not usually found in the melanocytes (skin pigment cells), which are the cells from which melanomas develop. However, it appears in some cases this gene is turned on as the tumour forms, and when it does it is linked to a worse prognosis."

The researchers suggest that the TP63 gene, and the subsequent production of the protein p63 in some melanoma, is inhibiting the apoptotic function of the protein p53. One of the main activities mediated by p53 is apoptosis the process of programmed cell death and one of the main mechanisms by which cancer cells die.

Dr Bergamaschi said: "The apoptotic pathway is often not working in melanoma. However this is not explained by mutations in the TP53 gene, which encodes for the p53 protein, as evidence suggests this is mutated in less than 10 per cent of melanoma.

"This work suggests that in a significant number of cases it is actually the protein p63 which is inhibiting p53's apoptotic function, making some tumours more resistant to treatment. We therefore suggest that p63 should be considered when designing new treatments for melanoma which are focused on re-activating the apoptotic pathway in order to make the cancer cells easier to kill."


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Contact: Katrina Coutts
k.coutts@qmul.ac.uk
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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