A new study to be published in the November issue of Nature Genetics identifies a role for whole chromosome losses or gains (known as aneuploidy) as a causal event in cancer. Nazneen Rahman and colleagues show that individuals with a rare condition characterized by growth retardation and childhood cancer (mosaic variegated aneuploidy, or MVA), carry mutations in a gene (BUB1B) involved in the surveillance mechanism that ensures dividing cells transmit the correct number of chromosomes to their daughter cells. The mechanisms involved in ensuring proper cell division, including replication and segregation of genetic material, is commonly found perturbed in all types of cancers, although it has remained unclear whether this is a cause or consequence of the deregulation of cell growth leading to cancer. Individuals with MVA have large numbers of aneuploid cells, although the extent varies between tissues.
The fact that they carry mutations in a gene that prevents aneuploidy provides the strongest evidence yet of altered chromosome number as a cause of cancer.
Nazneen Rahman (Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, UK)
Tel: +44 208 722 4026
Also available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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