PTEN Regulates Alternative Splicing

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among Canadian men and the second leading cause of cancer death. Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland, part of the male reproductive system. Frequently, men with early prostate cancer have no warning symptoms. PTEN is a tumour suppressor gene that has been linked to prostate cancer. PTEN helps promote apoptosis (cell death), which helps regulate the uncontrolled cell growth that occurs in cancer; unfortunately, PTEN is often mutated in advanced stages of prostate cancer. Alternative splicing is an integral part of normal cell function, and is important for generating protein diversity and controlling protein function. Tien Yin Yau’s study investigates whether PTEN plays a role in regulating alternative splicing. Yau is studying whether changes in normal mRNA splicing increase susceptibility to prostate cancer by affecting genes implicated in tumor progression. The findings of Yau’s study will increase our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that regulate alternative splicing. Understanding what changes occur and their effects may result in the development of more effective cancer treatments.