NewsCell Biology

Immortality Gene Discovered

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Science  09 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5348, pp. 177
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5348.177

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Last month, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, a research team reported cloning a gene that, when mutated, helps make some types of cells immortal. The team doesn't know exactly how the new gene, called MORF4, works, but its structure suggests that it makes a transcription factor, a protein that controls the activity of other genes. The hope is that it will be possible to track down those genes, shedding light on both the cellular causes of immortality and its opposite number, senescence and aging. The work could also help provide a better understanding of cancer, because MORF4 may act as a tumor-suppressor gene--one whose loss or inactivation contributes to cancer development.