Tumour suppressor genes

Examination of familial cancer syndromes (e.g. retinoblastoma) and experimental evidence (particularly from somatic cell hybrid experiments) has demonstrated the existence of a different class of cancer gene—tumour suppressor genes. p53 is the most frequently-altered gene in human tumours. Approximately 37% of all cancers have a p53 mutation (incidence is much higher with cancers of the lung and colon). Certain specific tumour mutations are associated with particular carcinogens e.g. hepatocellular carcinoma is linked with hepatitis B and aflatoxins correlates with a high incidence of mutations in codon 249 of p53.

Products of tumour suppressor genes have a variety of functions within the cell. A large number of genes have now been isolated, as can be seen in the table.

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