Colorectal cancer: Tipping the scales
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The regulatory protein c-MYC plays an important role in promoting the development of many types of tumors. c-MYC is a transcription factor that controls the activity of large numbers of genes involved in cell division, and its overexpression leads to excessive cell proliferation. A new study carried out by a team led by Professor Heiko Hermeking at the Institute of Pathology at LMU (and German Cancer Consortium) now shows that c-MYC induces the production of a transcription factor, which increases the numbers of stem cells in the intestinal epithelium, and thereby contributes to the formation of adenomas (“polyps”) in the colon. Their findings appear in the online journal “Nature Communications“.

In approximately 90% of patients that present with colon carcinoma, the expression of the c-MYC protein is strongly increased due to mutations in the APC/beta-catenin pathway. As a result, the genes activated by c-MYC are themselves upregulated. Among the targets of c-MYC is the gene AP4, which codes for the transcription factor of the same name (AP4). Transcription factors like c-MYC and AP4 act as regulatory switches that enable the genetic information encoded in specific segments of the DNA to be transcribed into messenger RNA, which programs the synthesis

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