8 September 2014
New research has found that a genetic mutation, caused by ultraviolet (UV) light, is likely to cause millions of human skin cancers.
The research conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that a mutation in the gene KNSTRN could be responsible for a large number of skin cancer cases. KNSTRN, which helps cells divide their DNA equally during cell division, could be a previously unknown oncogene - genes that are known to cause cancer.
According to the researchers, the study shows that skin cancers "arise differently" from other forms of the disease, and that a single mutation can cause "genomic catastrophe".
The researchers found mutations in a region of KNSTRN is mutated in about a fifth of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas and about five per cent of melanomas. The findings, reported in Nature Genetics, were discovered while the team were examining the genetic causes of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
Some 336 candidate genes were identified from comparing DNA sequences in tumour cells with normal skins.The top two most commonly mutated genes had been linked to squamous cell carcinoma before but the third - KNSTRN - was unknown.
During research, they found that overexpression of mutant KNSTRN enhanced the growth of cancer cells.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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