Nowak MA, Michor F, Komarova NL, Iwasa Y. 2004. Evolutionary dynamics of tumor suppressor gene inactivation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 101(29):10635-8. Pubmed: 15252197


Tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) are important gatekeepers that protect against somatic evolution of cancer. Losing both alleles of a TSG in a single cell represents a step toward cancer. We study how the kinetics of TSG inactivation depends on the population size of cells and the mutation rates for the first and second hit. We calculate the probability as function of time that at least one cell has been generated with two inactivated alleles of a TSG. We find three different kinetic laws: in small, intermediate, and large populations, it takes, respectively, two, one, and zero rate-limiting steps to inactivate a TSG. We also study the effect of chromosomal and other genetic instabilities. Small lesions without genetic instability can take a very long time to inactivate the next TSG, whereas the same lesions with genetic instability pose a much greater risk for cancer progression.

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Franziska Michor uses the tools of theoretical evolutionary biology, applied mathematics, statistics, and computational biology to address important questions in cancer research.

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