A collaboration of scientists mainly from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and at the University of Washington (Seattle) has made an important discovery linking the powerful cancer-causing oncogene, myc, with the gene behind the premature aging disease, Werner syndrome. Their finding reveals that the MYC oncoprotein turns-on Werner syndrome gene expression, and posits the Werner syndrome gene as a potentially important participant in MYC-induced tumorigenesis.
Werner syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the appearance of old age beginning after puberty. It is caused by mutations in the Werner syndrome gene (WRN), which resides on the short arm of human chromosome 8. The WRN gene encodes a DNA helicase (an enzyme that unwinds DNA) involved in DNA replication and repair.
As published in the July 1 issue of Genes & Development, Dr. Carla Grandori and colleagues have discovered that WRN expression is regulated by the MYC oncoprotein, which is implicated in about one third of all human cancers.
Heather Cosel | EurekAlert!
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