Protein plays role in inherited cancer syndrome, may be key to other tumors
A research team based at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has identified a key cellular function of a protein known to be involved in the rare genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). The protein, called merlin, plays a key role in cell-to-cell communication and may be involved in other types of cancer. The discovery also may support the theory that some tumors are destined to spread or metastasize from the outset, rather than gaining the ability to spread as they develop. The report appears in the May 1, 2003, issue of Genes & Development.
NF2 is a rare inherited disorder characterized by multiple tumors of the spine and brain. The NF2 gene was discovered in 1993 by researchers from MGH and elsewhere. At the time of its discovery it was apparent that the NF2 gene was a tumor suppressor, but its exact function was unclear. The protein encoded by the NF2 gene, given the name merlin, was found at the interface of the cell membrane with the cytoskeleton, a network of filaments that supports the cell.
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