Proteins that when expressed out of context cause a cell to become cancerous are known as oncogenic proteins. Qimin Zhan and colleagues, at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, People's Republic of China, have now identified in mice a new oncogenic protein that is also expressed at elevated levels in human breast cancers and lung carcinomas.
In the study, Nlp was found to be expressed at elevated levels in the majority of human breast and lung cancers analyzed. In the lung cancers analyzed, these high protein levels were a result of NLP gene amplification. In vitro analysis of the function of Nlp indicated that it conferred on cells tumorigenic properties, suggesting that it was an oncogenic protein. Consistent with this, mice engineered to overexpress Nlp spontaneously developed tumorigenesis in the breast, ovary, and testicle.
The authors therefore suggest that Nlp abnormalities might lead to tumor formation and development.
The research appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
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