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The Genetics of Pancreatic Cancer

-- The Discoveries

 

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MKK4 Mutations

Why are MKK4 mutations important?  Inactivation of the MKK4 gene occurs in pancreatic cancer at a low rate, in about 4% of cases.  But this is a new and unexpected type of tumor-suppressor pathway, and it may have a lot to teach us.  MKK4 is part of a signaling system that is stimulated in the presence of stress to the cell (including chemotherapy), and it may control differentiation and programmed cell death - termed apoptosis.  Once we know the roles of the other members of the pathway, we may find more mutations in other genes.