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Childhood leukemia: a genetic swap meet.

Many types of leukemia, cancer of the white blood cells, are caused when pieces of two chromosomes break off and exchange places within the cells, prompting their abnormal growth. Researchers have now identified one of the genes involved in the chromosome swap that results in acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of leukemia among children.

Carlo M. Croce and colleagues at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia have determined that the ALL chromosome swap, or translocation, splices a newly identified gene onto a gene with unknown function. The researchers report in the Nov. 13 CELL that the new gene resembles the fruit fly gene for a transcription factor, which controls the activity of other genes.

Croce's team suggests that the translocation creates a "fusion" transcription factor that may cause leukemia either by activating the wrong genes or preventing the normal transcription factor from activating the right genes.
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Title Annotation:cell exchange results in abnormal growth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 21, 1992
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