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GEN News Highlights : Jan 30, 2007

UCLA Researchers Discover Genes Linked to Lymphoma

Genetic defect can inactivate normal tumor-suppressing gene activities in a range of cell types, suggesting involvement in other cancers as well.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles identified genes that, when inactivated, help cause B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). These genetic defects may also be involved in promoting the formation of other cancers since they can inactivate normal tumor-suppressing gene activities in a range of cell types.

The team used genetically engineered mice to accurately mimic human B-cell cancers. They had previously identified frequent genetic abnormalities in cancer cells from NHL patients—namely defects in the TCL1 gene—and showed that TCL1 abnormalities can cause NHL in mice when accompanied by additional genetic defects. Now, they have found some of these cancer collaborators.

Michael Teitell, M.D., Ph.D., and his team used restriction landmark genomic scanning (RLGS) to find genes that work with abnormal TCL1 to promote lymphoma formation. These genes are inactivated in lymphomas by DNA hypermethylation.

The research, published in the January 29, 2007, issue of Oncogene, may help in the development of new targeted drugs for NHL patients.The study was funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.