38.9: Loss of Tumor Suppressor Gene Functions
Tumor suppressor genes are normal genes that can slow down cell division, repair DNA mistakes, or program the cells for apoptosis in case of irreparable damage. Hence, they play an essential role in preventing the proliferation of damaged cells.
When the tumor suppressor genes develop mutations or are lost, cells start growing out of control, leading to cancer. However, a single functional copy of the tumor suppressor gene is enough for the cells to maintain their normal functions and cell cycle. It's only when both the copies of the gene are inactivated or lost that the cells lose control and become cancerous.
Some common tumor suppressor genes that have implications in human cancer include TP53, Rb, INK4, PTEN, APC, BRCA1/BRCA2, and MADR2. Loss of function mutations in these tumor suppressor genes has implications in many types of cancers, including ovarian, lung, colorectal, head and neck, pancreatic, uterine, breast, and bladder cancer.