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Study pinpoints novel cancer gene and biomarker
Date:6/24/2009

BOSTON--Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists' discovery of a cancer-causing gene the first in its family to be linked to cancer demonstrates how the panoramic view of genomics and the close-up perspective of molecular biology are needed to determine which genes are involved in cancer and which are mere bystanders. The findings are reported in the June 25 issue of the journal Nature.

"In the coming years, we can expect genomic studies [which chart the activity of thousands of cell genes] to generate hundreds or thousands of genetic elements of interest in cancer research," says the study's senior author, Lynda Chin, MD, of Dana-Farber. "To narrow that group to the genes that actually drive cancer growth and metastasis, it's necessary to do functional studies, which focus on what individual genes do to turn a cell cancerous, and mechanistic studies, which examine how they turn cells cancerous and in what setting. It is a long and intensive effort that will leverage knowledge from different fields and different model systems."

In the study, Chin, lead author Kenneth Scott, PhD, of Dana-Farber, and their colleagues worked their way through a series of experiments -- in yeast cells, multiple types of human cancer cells, laboratory cell cultures, and mouse models - to demonstrate that a surplus of a gene known as GOLPH3 can spur cancer cell growth in a variety of tissues. It is the first gene associated with the Golgi complex, a tiny packaging plant that prepares proteins for their journey within and outside the cell, which has been found to play a role in cancer. Chin's team also found that the protein made from GOLPH3 may serve as a biomarker for tumors that can be effectively treated with the chemotherapy drug rapamycin: tumors with a high level of the protein are more apt to shrink in response to the drug than those with low levels.

The study began with an observation made years ago that a section of chromosome 5p13 is oft
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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