The growth and differentiation of a normal cell is controlled by a number of intricately complex regulatory events that are coordinated so as to meet the needs of the tissue and ultimately the organism as a whole. This intricate process of regulatory checks and balances malfunctions with cancer cells which replicate in a self-reliant manner that ultimately interferes with the growth and function of normal cells. At the cellular level, the transformation from the normal to the cancerous (neoplastic) state involves disruption of regulatory events required for normal cell function. Great strides have been made in the last few decades toward understanding the molecular mechanism(s) through which cancers develop. It is now thought that development of neoplastic growth results from the altered expression and/or function of a battery of genes that may play key roles in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. In this respect, the group of genes termed the oncogenes have been the focus of intense study. Originally identified by their ability to induce neoplastic transformation, they are now recognized as mutant forms of the “normal” proto-oncogenes which play a central role in growth regulation in normal cells. Proto-oncogenes and their mutated counterparts thus provide an excellent cellular marker for not only studying the regulatory mechanisms orchestrating normal cellular events, but also for dissecting the molecular basis of neoplastic growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism