Some of these genes appear to be linked with the growth of cancerous cells only -- not healthy cells -- making them possible targets for new drugs that could halt the spread of disease without necessarily compromising normal processes.
Results of the study appear in the July 22 issue of Cancer Cell.
The research relied on a strategy pioneered in the laboratory of Igor Roninson, distinguished professor of molecular genetics in the UIC College of Medicine. The strategy involves cutting human DNA into tiny, random fragments, inserting the fragments into a mammalian cell using a vector, or delivery vehicle, and inducing them to express their genetic information.
Some of the fragments prove to be biologically active by interfering with the function of the genes from which they are derived.
In the new study, certain fragments inhibited the multiplication of breast cancer cells by shutting down the genes necessary for cell growth. The experiment enabled researchers in Roninson's laboratory, led by research assistant professor Thomas Primiano, to locate 57 genes involved in cell proliferation.
They identified the genes by matching the growth-inhibiting fragments with sequences in the human genome.
"Our strategy was validated by the fact that more than half of the genes we identified were already known to play key roles in the growth of cells or the development of cancers," Roninson said. "Many of the other genes, however, were not previously known to be involved in cell division and proliferation. In fact, the functions of some of these genes were entirely unknown."
Analysis of animal studies conducted by other investigators allowed Roninson's group to determine which genes were likely involved in the growth of tumor cells bu
Contact: Sharon Butler
University of Illinois at Chicago