What is it?Edit
An oncogene is genetic DNA material with the potential to cause cancer. This includes genes that originated to cause cancer or genes that underwent a mutation and now have the capability to cause cancer. A gene that mutated to a cancerous form is more specifically know as a proto-oncogene. The first oncogene was discovered in a chicken retrovirus, that oncogene was src. Oncogenes are present in healthy cell; they only cause cancer when they are activated. Before it becomes active, if it is not originally cancer causing, it is the proto-oncogene.
How does it work?Edit
A cell that recognizes a problem with its genetic information begins the apoptosis process. When an activated oncogene is present, the cell is unable to undergo cell death. After the cell is deprived of death, an oncogene typically requires an additional change within the genome to cause cancer. These changes can come from mutation, infection, environmental cues such as UV exposure or carcinogens, an increase in protein production, or chromosomal abnormalities (such as a translocation).
What is the result?Edit
Ocogenes can cause tumors in host organisms. In humans oncogenes have been found in lung, breast, liver, pancreatic, and colon cancers, for a small example.
For all the details and latest news regarding oncogenes, Nature publishes the journal Oncogene weekly!