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DNA switches tied to non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Genetic defects lead to altered activity in other genes

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2:07pm, July 31, 2011

Mutations in genes that flick other genes on and off may be at the heart of two forms of the blood cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Two separate studies found that mutations in the MLL2 gene lead to the cancer, researchers report online July 27 in Nature and July 31 in Nature Genetics. For certain subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the mutations appear to account for most cases.

MLL2 gets put right at the top of the list,” says Ryan Morin of the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver. Morin and his colleagues found that the gene is mutated in 89 percent of cases of follicular lymphoma, a slow-growing form of the disease.

“It’s a [mutation] that defines the disease,” says Riccardo Dalla-Favera, a molecular hematologist at Columbia University and coauthor of the paper in Nature Genetics.

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