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If you think cancer genes are simple, you don't know JAK
Date:9/17/2007

n JAK and a gene known as Krppel, best known for playing a major role in the development of a fruit flys body. It turns out that Kr ppel also enhances an organisms ability to suppress tumors, and if the normal gene is knocked out or replaced by a faulty version, an organism is more likely to develop cancer when another cancer-causing gene like JAK is present.

His team found that some flies with a normal version of Krppel got just as many tumors as their brethren with the bad copy about three times as many tumors as most fruit flies with the normal version simply because one of their parents harbored the JAK oncogene. Scientists believe the JAK mutation somehow messed up the package that contained Kr ppel, and this damage causes problems a generation later, even when the faulty Krppel gene is no longer around.

In Jurassic Park, all the knowledge that was needed to re-create dinosaurs was gotten out of ancient DNA embedded in amber, said Dirk Bohmann, Ph.D., a colleague and fellow fruit-fly researcher who was not directly involved in the study. Willis and other scientists are showing that there is so much more that goes into controlling and regulating genetic information than just knowledge of the DNA code. Michael Crichton would have a harder time making that film today, given what has been discovered in recent years.

This work tells us that we have to pay more attention to the ways in which DNA is packaged. Its not just about the DNA sequence, Bohmann added.

Last year in a paper in Nature Genetics, Li first showed that JAK is a more powerful oncogene than previously thought, with the ability to turn on cancer-causing genes that are normally silent, through another epigenetic mechanism involving gene packaging. The new work shows that the gene is also able to suppress cancer-suppressing genes that are normally turned on, making JAK even more of a threat than had been known.

Work like Lis is getting the attention of phar
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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