A new study, using a unique detection method, has led scientists to identify several genes whose rearrangements in prostate cancer cells may play a role in the development and progression of the disease. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, report that two genes, ETV1 and ERG, which previously were implicated as cancer-causing gene rearrangements in Ewing's sarcoma (a relatively rare bone cancer), are now seen as important cancer-causing genes in prostate cancer. Closer analysis showed how rearrangement of these genes was responsible for their cancer-causing potential. The research appears in the October 28, 2005, issue of Science and was supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
This study is the first evidence that non-random, recurrent rearrangements of genes can occur in cancers derived from epithelial cells, which line the body's cavities. Previously, non-random recurrent genetic rearrangements were known to occur only in leukemia, lymphoma, and soft tissue sarcomas.
Gene rearrangements that involve the movement of a gene fragment from one segment of DNA to another, possibly affecting gene expression (whether a gene is turned on or off), is called a translocation. Gene translocations can have a dramatic effect on gene expression. One well-known example of a translocation involves the fusion of the BCR gene and the ABL gene. The resulting BCR-ABL fusion gene causes the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Epithelial tumors, such as prostate cancer, previously have not been known to have such gene changes.
This study is published in Tomlins SA, Rhodes DR, Perner S, Dhanasekaran SM, Mehra R, Sun XW, Varambally S, Cao X, Tchinda J, Kuefer R, Lee C, Montie JE, Shah RB, Pienta KJ, Rubin MA, Chinnaiyan AM. Recurrent Fusion of TMPRSS2 and ETS Transcription Factor Genes in Prostate Cancer. Science, October 28, 2005; Vol. 310, No. 5748.
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