last updated April 2013
The genetics of human cancer cell lines
Scientists have cataloged genetic changes within human cancer cell lines to improve understanding of the disease
Researchers from Singapore and Europe have created a database of all the genetic changes that occur among the protein tyrosine kinases — a key class of proteins that regulate cellular function — in cancer cell lines1.
Tyrosine kinases are a family of approximately 90 proteins that are critical in regulating the normal behavior of a cell. When mutated, these proteins can lead to a tumor. As such, they have become therapeutic targets in the clinic, but pinpointing the mutation causing a particular tumor can be difficult.
Now a team led by Axel Ullrich and Byrappa Venkatesh has identified all the mutations among protein tyrosine kinases in 254 established cancer cell lines. The team’s results are available to other researchers in a database called 'Tykiva' (tyrosine kinome variant). In addition, the researchers have shown that many of these mutations also occur in primary human cancer cells, and that additional types of cancers could respond to existing anti-tyrosine kinase therapies.
Venkatesh believes that these findings are valuable because the cell lines cover a wide range of tissues and cell types, are readily available worldwide, and can allow easier testing of the consequences of the mutations identified.