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This Week in Cancer Cell: Apr 1, 2011

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In Cancer Cell this week, researchers in Switzerland say the URI oncogene is amplified in ovarian cancer cells and is necessary for those cells' survival. Around 10 percent of aggressive ovarian cancers are characterized by URI amplification, which disables the normal feedback inhibition of S6K1 survival signaling by PP1-gamma, the researchers write.

Also in Cancer Cell this week, researchers in the US and Canada identify a therapeutic strategy targeting amplified FGF19 in liver cancer. The researchers screened 124 genes amplified in human hepatocellular carcinoma and identified 18 tumor-promoting genes, including CCND1 and FGF19, both of which are found in 11q13.3. "Although it is widely assumed that CCND1 is the main driving oncogene of this common amplicon (15 percent frequency in HCC), both forward-transformation assays and RNAi-mediated inhibition in human HCC cells established that FGF19 is an equally important driver gene in HCC," the authors write. "These results show that 11q13.3 amplification could be an effective biomarker for patients most likely to respond to anti-FGF19 therapy."

Researchers in Tennessee and Ohio say cooperation between the Pten, p53, and Rb pathways induces high-grade astrocytoma in the human brain. Mutations in these pathways cause dyregulation at multiple nodes, the authors write. When the researchers induced various combinations of deletions in these pathways in astrocytes, it resulted in astrocytomas of various grades.

Finally in Cancer Cell this week, researchers in Japan say a variant of CD44, CD44v, regulates the redox status of cancer cells by stabilizing xCT, thereby promoting tumor growth. When CD44v interacts with xCT, a glutamate-cystine transporter, it controls the intracellular level of reduced glutathione, an antioxidant. "Ablation of CD44 induced loss of xCT from the cell surface and suppressed tumor growth in a transgenic mouse model of gastric cancer," the researchers write.