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Homing in on a key lung cancer gene.

After years of sleuthing, scientists have identified a gene they believe is responsible for up to half of all cases of lung cancer.

Collaborators from eight U.S. institutions have turned up evidence that the gene's absence leads to large-cell lung carcinoma, one of the most common forms of cancer in both sexes. The gene directs the production of PTP-gamma, a member of a family of enzymes called protein-tyrosine phosphatases. These PTP enzymes act as receptors on the outer membranes of cells, receiving and translating incoming messages that tell the cell when to stop dividing.

The gene "is a candidate for being involved in lung cancer, but we don't have proof at this point that it is definitely the gene which is involved," cautions study director Carlo M. Croce of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

The team found that one copy of the PTP-gamma gene was missing in half of the lung tissue samples taken from 10 patients with various types of lung cancer. In contrast, patients with unrelated diseases had two copies of the gene in their lung tissue.

The PTP-gamma gene resides on the short arm of chromosome 3, the researchers discovered. Previous studies have shown that pieces of chromosome 3 are missing in many lung cancer patients.

Croce and his colleagues are now working to isolate a complete copy of the gene--a challenging task because of the gene's large size. To confirm its role in lung cancer, they plan to splice the gene into culture lung cancer cells. If it reverses the cells' cancerous traits, says Croce, this will prove that it is a so-called tumor-suppressor gene--a gene that keeps cells from multiplying uncontrollably and causing cancer.
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Title Annotation:protein-tyrosine phosphatase gamma gene
Author:Ezzell, Carol
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:292
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