One of the hallmarks of many cancers is an alteration in the expression of the c-myc oncogene. c-myc encodes a transcription factor that controls the expression of a variety of genes involved in basic functions such as cell growth and control of the cell cycle. MYC can also upregulate the genes that enable cells to become immortal—a defining characteristic of tumors. In the 1 July Genes and Development Carla Grandori and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center demonstrate that the WRN gene, mutations in which cause Werner syndrome, is an important new target of MYC. The WRN gene encodes a RecQ helicase, and patients with Werner syndrome age prematurely, as well as having an increased risk of contracting certain types of cancer (Genes & Development, 17:1569-1574, July 1, 2003).

Grandori et al. used human cell lines in which they controlled the expression of c-myc...

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