Oncogenes in cell survival and cell death

Jake Shortt, Ricky W Johnstone

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96 Citations (Scopus)


The transforming effects of proto-oncogenes such as MYC that mediate unrestrained cell proliferation are countered by intrinsic tumor suppressor mechanisms that most often trigger apoptosis. Therefore, cooperating genetic or epigenetic effects to suppress apoptosis (e.g., overexpression of BCL2) are required to enable the dual transforming processes of unbridled cell proliferation and robust suppression of apoptosis. Certain oncogenes such as BCR-ABL are capable of concomitantly mediating the inhibition of apoptosis and driving cell proliferation and therefore are less reliant on cooperating lesions for transformation. Accordingly, direct targeting of BCR-ABL through agents such as imatinib have profound antitumor effects. Other oncoproteins such as MYC rely on the anti-apoptotic effects of cooperating oncoproteins such as BCL2 to facilitate tumorigenesis. In these circumstances, where the primary oncogenic driver (e.g., MYC) cannot yet be therapeutically targeted, inhibition of the activity of the cooperating antiapoptotic protein (e.g., BCL2) can be exploited for therapeutic benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 10
Number of pages10
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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