Tumor suppressor genes: the puzzle and the promise

Science  15 Dec 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4936, pp. 1406-1412
DOI: 10.1126/science.2574499


Tumor suppressor genes are wild-type alleles of genes that play regulatory roles in cell proliferation, differentiation, and other cellular and systemic processes. It is their loss or inactivation that is oncogenic. The first evidence of tumor suppressor genes appeared in the early 1970s, but only within the past few years has a wealth of new information illuminated the central importance of these genes. Two or more different suppressor genes may be inactivated in the same tumors, and the same suppressors may be inactive in different tumor types (for example, lung, breast, and colon). The suppressor genes already identified are involved in cell cycle control, signal transduction, angiogenesis, and development, indicating that they contribute to a broad array of normal and tumor-related functions. It is proposed that tumor suppressor genes provide a vast untapped resource for anticancer therapy.

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