Researchers identify gene as protector of DNA, enemy of tumors

percent of cells had chromosomal aberrations.

"We also found that BRIT1 expression is aberrant in several forms of human cancer," Lin said. The team found reduced expression of the gene in 35 of 87 cases of advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. They also found reduced expression in breast and prostate cancer tissue compared with non-cancerous cells.

Genetic analysis of breast cancer specimens revealed a truncated, dysfunctional version of the BRIT1 protein in one sample.

Loss of the DNA damage checkpoint function and the ability to proliferate indefinitely are two cellular changes required for the development of cancer. Lin and colleagues have now tied the gene to both factors. They previously identified BRIT1 as a repressor of hTERT, a protein that when reactivated immortalizes cells, allowing them to multiply indefinitely.


Contact: Scott Merville
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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