"This is a novel discovery that will now require additional investigation," he says. "We need to understand what these fusion transcripts and proteins are doing."
Fusion transcripts are created when chromosomes break apart and recombine, an event that commonly occurs in cancer cells. During this process, fusion genes are created when two halves of normal genes become linked. Fusion genes (DNA) create fusion transcripts (RNA), which then produce fusion proteins.
"Mistakes are made," Dr. Thompson says. "That is one of the salient properties of tumor cells, because they are defective in repairing damage to their genes."
"These mutated proteins may have an entirely new, cancer-promoting function, or they may interfere with normal cellular functions."
Because fusion genes, transcript, and protein are generally found only in tumors, they make ideal biomarkers to identify tumor cells, Dr. Perez says.
Also, proteins produced by fusion transcripts may be relevant to tumor growth, as has been seen in blood cancers and in lung cancer, she says.
"These transcripts may mark regions of localized chromosomal instability that are linked to growth of breast cancer. If we can develop drugs against these transcripts, they will be ideal therapeutic targets," Dr. Perez says. "We have a lot of exciting work
|Contact: Paul Scotti|