Blame your genes for aggressive form of pancreatic cancer
Researchers have identified a mutated gene common to adenosquamous carcinoma (ASC) tumors - the first known unique molecular signature for this rare, but particularly virulent, form of pancreatic cancer.
Co-senior author Miles F. Wilkinson, PhD, professor in the Department of Reproductive Medicine and a member of the UC San Diego Institute for Genomic Medicine, said there has been little progress in understanding pancreatic ASC since these aggressive tumors were first described more than a century ago, asserting one problem has been identifying mutations unique to this class of tumors.
In their paper, Wilkinson, co-senior author Yanjun Lu, PhD, of Tongji University in China, and colleagues report that ASC pancreatic tumors have somatic or non-heritable mutations in the UPF1 gene, which is involved in a highly conserved RNA degradation pathway called nonsense-mediated RNA decay or NMD. It is the first known example of genetic alterations in an NMD gene in human tumors.
NMD has two major roles. First, it is a quality control mechanism used by cells to eliminate faulty messenger RNA (mRNA) - molecules that help transcribe genetic information into the construction of proteins essential to life. Second, it degrades a specific group of normal mRNAs, including those encoding proteins promoting cell growth, cell migration and cell survival.
The findings have been published online in the journal Nature Medicine.
(Posted on 26-05-2014)