Author(s): Lou X, Zhang J, Liu S, Xu N, Liao DJ
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Abstract Although cancer-regulatory genes are dichotomized to oncogenes and tumor-suppressor gene s, in reality they can be oncogenic in one situation but tumor-suppressive in another. This dual-function nature, which sometimes hampers our understanding of tumor biology, has several manifestations: (1) Most canonically defined genes have multiple mRNAs, regulatory RNAs, protein isoforms, and posttranslational modifications; (2) Genes may interact at different levels, such as by forming chimeric RNAs or by forming different protein complexes; (3) Increased levels of tumor-suppressive genes in normal cells drive proliferation of cancer progenitor cells in the same organ or tissue by imposing compensatory proliferation pressure, which presents the dual-function nature as a cell-cell interaction. All these manifestations of dual functions can find examples in the genes along the CCND-CDK4/6-RB axis. The dual-function nature also underlies the heterogeneity of cancer cells. Gene-targeting chemotherapies, including that targets CDK4, are effective to some cancer cells but in the meantime may promote growth or progression of some others in the same patient. Redefining "gene" by considering each mRNA, regulatory RNA, protein isoform, and posttranslational modification from the same genomic locus as a "gene" may help in better understanding tumor biology and better selecting targets for different sub-populations of cancer cells in individual patients for personalized therapy.
This article was published in Cell Cycle
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism