Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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World Cancer Day Reining-in Cancer

Rassf5 gene regulates balance between progenitor cell self-renewal and proliferation

04 February 2021

Reining-in Cancer

The sun bombards our skin with UV radiation, causing pro-cancer mutations to accumulate in the DNA of our skin cells. However, adult human skin cells are surprisingly tolerant of potent carcinogenic mutations without visible consequences. Research has shown that although these clusters of mutated cells persist, they remain limited in size. Researchers investigate why in mouse skin by introducing a pro-cancer mutation in the HRAS gene. Although some mutant cells divided to expand their numbers, acting as progenitor cells, others matured and were unable to proliferate. Looking more closely at the other genes involved, they focused on Rassf5, which is activated by HRAS. Among cells where Rassf5 protein levels were reduced (pictured in green in two slices of skin), progenitor cell numbers increased and the number of maturing cells reduced. Rassf5 is therefore vital in reining in the expansion of potentially dangerous mutated skin cells.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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