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Dicer and Drosha Run Interference

Conquest - Spring 2009


Anil Sood, M.D., professor in the
departments of Gynecologic Oncology
and Cancer Biology, has identified two
proteins shown to be associated with
survival.

The level of two proteins vital to a cell’s gene-silencing machinery in a woman’s ovarian cancer are strongly associated with her likelihood of survival, according to researchers at M. D. Anderson. Women with a high level of these proteins, called Dicer and Drosha, had a median survival of 11 years. Those with low levels of both had a median survival of 2.66 years.

Researchers also analyzed gene expression data in groups of lung and breast cancer patients and found similar associations with patient survival.

“Dicer and Drosha are crucial for two types of RNA interference, which cells use to shut down genes,” says senior author Anil Sood, M.D., professor in the departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology. “Very consistently, we found that low levels of Dicer in particular are predictive of poor outcomes.”

Molecular details of the raised risk for patients remain to be discovered, but it is likely that low levels of Dicer and Drosha permit some genes to continue functioning when they should be silenced.

“RNA interference has only been known for about a decade. The components of the machinery, what it does in cancer, and how it affects outcomes and therapy are not fully known,” Sood says.

Reported in the Dec. 18, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center