Scientists have long known of the tumor suppressors and oncogenes that kick-start cancer. Now researchers report that downstream genes affected by such mutations act synergistically to further promote cancer progression, according to a study published online in linkurl:Nature; on Sunday (May 25). "When cells convert from normal to cancer," said Hartmut Land from the University of Rochester Medical Center, an author of the study, "you have a forest of [genetic] changes that arise. It's difficult to understand which are important in the conversion." So Land and colleagues examined the changes in genes regulated by two known linkurl:oncogenic genes,; p53 and Ras. Mutations in p53 and Ras changed the expression patterns of 548 genes. The researchers then looked for the subset of those genes that acted synergistically -- whose response to the both mutations was more than the sum of their response to Ras or p53 alone. They then functionally tested...

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