Altered gene regulation is more widespread in cancer than expected
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IMAGE: This is Dr. Chad Creighton. view more 

Credit: Baylor College of Medicine

A large-scale study provides new insights into the mechanisms that can lead to cancer. It can happen when genes mutate, but cancer also can occur when the genetic regions involved in regulating gene expression change. In this study, the researchers used whole genome sequencing data to analyze all the genes of 1,448 cancers of 18 different types looking to identify genes whose expression was altered, not by mutation but as a result of changes in the genetic regions that regulate them. The study appears in the journal Cell Reports.

“The genome includes genes – sequences of DNA that encode the proteins that keep our body working – and regulatory regions adjacent to genes, which are sequences of DNA that regulate gene expression,” said corresponding author Dr. Chad Creighton, associate professor of medicine and member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center division of biostatistics at Baylor College of Medicine. “In the old days, scientists thought about the regulatory regions as representing ‘junk’ DNA because they do not make proteins, but in fact they play a critical role. There is an intricate network of regulatory molecules

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