Function of cancer genes discovered

May 13, 2005

Dutch researcher Sebastian Nijman has discovered new genes which are involved in the development of cancer. The results of his research have led to a new treatment for patients with an inherited form of cancer, cylindromatosis.
Patients with the very rare genetic condition cylindromatosis develop a lot of benign tumours on the skin. These tumours mainly occur on the head where they can cause serious malformations.

People with this disease have a mutated form of the protein CYLD. Nijman and his colleagues used genetic screens to discover the molecular mechanism underlying cylindromatosis. Nijman's research revealed that the CYLD protein plays an important role in the NF-kappa B signalling route. This is a cellular communications system which becomes overactive if the CYLD protein is mutated. This results in increased cell growth and the occurrence of tumours.

An important implication of this research is that inhibition of the NF-kappa B route in cylindromatosis patients could be an adequate form of treatment. Aspirin is a well-known inhibitor of this route and a clinical study into the effectiveness of aspirin ointment in the treatment of cylindromatosis is currently being carried out at the Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital.

Fanconi anaemia

The researcher also investigated another form of inherited cancer, Fanconi anaemia. People with this disease develop many highly malignant tumours at a young age, because the cell repair system is incapble of detaching two linked DNA strands.

FANCD2 is a protein responsible for the repair of this DNA damage. The protein is linked to a second protein, ubiquitin, when the cell detects that DNA damage has occurred. Nijman identified a third protein, USP1, which detaches the FANCD2 from the ubiquitin. USP1 therefore plays a role in the repair of DNA damage and possibly in the development of cancer.

Sebastian Nijman's research was partially funded by NWO.

Source: NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)

Explore further: Mapping the world's linguistic diversity—scientists discover links between your genes and the language you speak

Related Stories

New technique maps elusive chemical markers on proteins

22 hours ago

Unveiling how the 20,000 or so proteins in the human body work—and malfunction—is the key to understanding much of health and disease. Now, Salk researchers developed a new technique that allows scientists ...

A novel DNA damage alarm

Jun 25, 2015

How does our body keep its DNA intact? Researchers at Erasmus MC have just found a new piece of this puzzle. They discovered a novel alarm that cells use to signal DNA damage. "We already knew that DNA damage triggers an ...

Recommended for you

Lady, you're on the money

Jul 03, 2015

So far, women whose portraits appear on U.S. money have been a party of three. Excluding commemorative currency, only Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller appear on coins in general circulation, according ...

Old World monkey had tiny, complex brain

Jul 03, 2015

The brain hidden inside the oldest known Old World monkey skull has been visualized for the first time. The creature's tiny but remarkably wrinkled brain supports the idea that brain complexity can evolve ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.