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 | 
Oct 30, 2008
 |  BC Innovations  |  Tools & Techniques

Expanding the kinase kingdom

Researchers at Harvard Medical School, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital have applied loss-of-function small hairpin RNA screens to various human cell lines to identify kinases that are essential for cell proliferation and survival.1-4 The approach could substantially expand the number of kinases targeted in cancer.

Loss-of-function shRNA screens are often used to investigate various cell biological processes, such as NF-kB signal transduction, proteasome function, p53 signal transduction, modulation of RAS function, modulation of mitosis and mammary cell transformation.5-10

In a quartet of papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used shRNA screens to identify functional differences in essential kinases across a variety of human cancer cell lines from different tissues. According to Edward Harlow, chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and corresponding author of the PNASpapers, the loss-of-function screens used in the studies are the first to have been performed across such a large number of tumor cell lines.

The screens also were used to detect differences in kinase requirements between closely related cells that differ only by expression of a single oncogene or tumor suppressor gene.

In the first paper, application of shRNA loss-of-function screens to various...

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