Discovery of a new tumor suppressor previously thought to be an oncogene
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IMAGE: PLK1 overexpression pervents cell division thereby impairing cell proliferation and tumor growth. view more 

Credit: CNIO

A gene that has for decades been considered a tumour promoter, the PLK1 gene, can also perform the exact opposite function: halting the development of cancer. This finding was made by researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and the Germany’s Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), and is being published in the journal Nature Communications. The role of PLK1 as a target for powerful drugs must now be reviewed since, depending on the type of tumour to be treated, it might be useful to inhibit it, or it might not. For the time being, the scientists have discovered that the expression of PLK1 in breast tumours can determine a different prognosis, depending on the tumour sub-type.

The PLK1 gene is essential for the division and proliferation of tumour cells. It has been known for years the overexpression of PLK1 is found in a large variety of tumour types, and on occasions this overexpression is associated with poor prognosis (when a gene is overexpressed in the cell, there is an excess of the protein produced by that gene). For that reason, PLK1

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