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: Force triggers gene expression by stretching chromatin

Related Stories

Force triggers gene expression by stretching chromatin

August 26, 2016

How genes in our DNA are expressed into traits within a cell is a complicated mystery with many players, the main suspects being chemical. However, a new study by University of Illinois researchers and collaborators in China ...

How a nasty, brain-eating parasite could help us fight cancer

August 26, 2016

We've known since the turn of the 20th century that some infectious diseases are a major risk for developing specific cancers. More worryingly, about one-sixth of cancers worldwide are attributable to infectious agents. Globally, ...

Amyloid-related heart failure now detectable with imaging test

August 24, 2016

A type of heart failure caused by a build-up of amyloid can be accurately diagnosed and prognosticated with an imaging technique, eliminating the need for a biopsy, according to a multicenter study led by researchers at Columbia ...

Using light to control genome editing

August 25, 2016

The genome-editing system known as CRISPR allows scientists to delete or replace any target gene in a living cell. MIT researchers have now added an extra layer of control over when and where this gene editing occurs, by ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

0 comments

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.