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Master regulator of key cancer gene found, offers new drug target
Date:6/25/2014

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (June 23, 2014) A key cancer-causing gene, responsible for up to 20 percent of cancers, may have a weak spot in its armor, according to new research from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

The partnership of MYC, a gene long linked to cancer, and a non-coding RNA, PVT1, could be the key to understanding how MYC fuels cancer cells. The research is published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

"We knew MYC amplifications cause cancer. But we also know that MYC does not amplify alone. It often pairs with adjacent chromosomal regions. We wanted to know if the neighboring genes played a role," said lead author Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School, the College of Biological Sciences and member of the Masonic Cancer Center. "We took a chance and were surprised to find this unexpected and counter-intuitive partnership between MYC and its neighbor, PVT1. Not only do these genes amplify together, PVT1 helps boost the MYC protein's ability to carry out its dangerous activities in the cell."

Contributors to this research include Yuen-Yi Tseng, graduate student with Anindya Bagchi, David Largaespada, Ph.D., professor in the College of Biological Sciences, Yasuhiko Kawakami, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Biological Sciences, York Marahrens, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences and Kathryn Schwertfeger, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Minnesota's Medical School.

Bagchi and his team focused on a region of the genome, 8q24, which contains the MYC gene and is commonly expressed in cancer. The team separated MYC from the neighboring region containing the non-coding RNA PVT1. Using a specialized gene manipulation technique called chromosome engineering, researchers developed genetically engineered mouse strains in three separate iterations: MYC only, the rest of the region containing
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Contact: Caroline Marin
crmarin@umn.edu
612-624-5680
University of Minnesota Academic Health Center
Source:Eurekalert

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