Gene that causes chronic lymphocytic leukemia discovered

Scientists of the Superior Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), with the support of Spanish Association Against Cancerlead a study that identified a gene that, without the need for mutations, causes chronic lymphocytic leukemiathe most common in people over sixty.

The discovery, published in the journal Molecular Cancershows that more than 82% of patients with this cancer – which originates in a type of white blood cell (the lymphocytes) in the bone marrow and can spread to the blood – express high levels of RRAS2 gene and that higher amounts are related to more aggressive leukemias.

More than 82% of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia have elevated levels of the RRAS2 gene

“This fact, together with the identification of a marker in the gene, allows us to suggest that the majority of chronic lymphocytic leukemias in humans are caused by the overexpression of RRAS2”, explains the director of the study, Balbino Alarcon, from the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center (CSIC-UAM).

Thanks to this discovery, the RRAS2 gene is emerging as an unambiguous marker in the detection of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and opens the door to the exploration of new treatments. “We believe that the protein encoded by this gene could be an important target for the generation of new drugs effective in the treatment of this disease”, guarantees the specialist.

A mutation-free oncogene

Cancers appear due to the accumulation of damage to the genes of the body’s cells. The search for specific genes responsible for different types of tumors, the oncogenesis developed by identifying mutations.

These cause changes in the amino acid sequence of the proteins encoded by these genes. However, in this new study, RRAS2 was found to cause chronic lymphocytic leukemia. no mutations in its amino acid sequence.

The relevance of these data lies in the ways of detection, since the marker of the possible presence of cancer is not based on the mutation, but on the mutation itself. amount of genes in the organism. “We observed that the expression of the RRAS2 gene without mutations in mice in amounts above normal is sufficient to cause the appearance of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in all animals”, concludes Alarcón.

Reference:

vegetable and others. “Overexpression of wild-type RRAS2, without oncogenic mutations, leads to chronic lymphocytic leukemia.” Molecular Cancer.

Rights: Creative Commons.

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