The role of mutation in the new cancer paradigm
Prehn, Richmond T.
MetadataShow full item record
The almost universal belief that cancer is caused by mutation may gradually be giving way to the belief that cancer begins as a cellular adaptation that involves the local epigenetic silencing of various genes. In my own interpretation of the new epigenetic paradigm, the genes epigenetically suppressed are genes that normally serve in post-embryonic life to suppress and keep suppressed those other genes upon which embryonic development depends. Those other genes, if not silenced or suppressed in the post-embryonic animal, become, I suggest, the oncogenes that are the basis of neoplasia. Mutations that occur in silenced genes supposedly go unrepaired and are, therefore, postulated to accumulate, but such mutations probably play little or no causative role in neoplasia because they occur in already epigenetically silenced genes. These mutations probably often serve to make the silencing, and therefore the cancer, epigenetically irreversible.