Functional characterisation of the putative tumour suppressor gene MCC in colorectal cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Lead Researcher: Dr Maija RJ Kohonen-Corish

Institution: Garvan Insititute of Medical Research (NSW)

Funding: $360,000

Funding Duration: 2010 - 2012

The Research

The MCC gene was discovered in 1991 due to its linkage with the APC gene, which is now recognised as a key tumour suppressor gene in colorectal cancer. However, MCC was overlooked for many years, because, unlike APC, it is only rarely mutated in colorectal cancer. Dr Kohonen-Corish’s team previously made the discovery that the MCC gene is defective in about 50% of colorectal cancers causing it to be expressed at low levels. This defect occurs in early premalignant polyps. The team developed a novel DNA based biomarker test that can identify the defective MCC gene in tumour specimens. The aim of this project was to determine how the MCC gene defect promotes cancer by studying cells grown in the laboratory and by examining surgical cancer specimens. This will determine which cellular functions are altered following loss of MCC in colorectal tumours. Ultimately this will determine if the MCC defect in cancer tissue is associated with improved or worse treatment outcomes in patients. An understanding of the biological function of the MCC gene is needed in order to assess the value of MCC in predicting treatment responses. With this funding, the team have discovered three new biological functions for MCC which can now be tested further using preclinical models.


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