Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men, but little is known about its causes, genetic or otherwise. In January 22 Advance Online Publication Nature Genetics, a group of researchers at 14 institutions in the US, Finland and Sweden, coordinated by National Institute of Health, Bethesda, US, describe a candidate tumor suppressor gene that is mutated in families in which men have a high risk of developing prostate cancer.

Carpten et al. examined a region on chromosome 1 that had been identified in 1996 as the probable site of a susceptibility gene. Using a positional cloning/candidate gene method they identified mutations in the gene encoding ribonuclease L (RNASEL) in brothers from two families diagnosed with prostate cancer (Nat Genet 2002, DOI: 10.1038/ng823).

RNASEL controls cell proliferation and apoptosis through the interferon-regulated 2-5A pathway and Carpten et al. speculated that its absence might incline the...

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