The molecular anatomy of cancer cells is being explored through unbiased approaches aimed at the identification of cancer-specific transcriptional signatures. An alternative biased approach is exploitation of molecular tools capable of inducing cellular transformation. Transcriptional signatures thus identified can be readily validated in real cancers and more easily reverse-engineered into signaling pathways, given preexisting molecular knowledge. We exploited the ability of the adenovirus early region 1 A protein (E1A) oncogene to force the reentry into the cell cycle of terminally differentiated cells in order to identify and characterize genes whose expression is upregulated in this process. A subset of these genes was activated through a retinoblastoma protein/E2 viral promoter required factor–independent (pRb/E2F-independent) mechanism and was overexpressed in a fraction of human cancers. Furthermore, this overexpression correlated with tumor progression in colon cancer, and 2 of these genes predicted unfavorable prognosis in breast cancer. A proof of principle biological validation was performed on one of the genes of the signature, skeletal muscle cell reentry-induced (SKIN) gene, a previously undescribed gene. SKIN was found overexpressed in some primary tumors and tumor cell lines and was amplified in a fraction of colon adenocarcinomas. Furthermore, knockdown of SKIN caused selective growth suppression in overexpressing tumor cell lines but not in tumor lines expressing physiological levels of the transcript. Thus, SKIN is a candidate oncogene in human cancer.
Francesco Nicassio, Fabrizio Bianchi, Maria Capra, Manuela Vecchi, Stefano Confalonieri, Marco Bianchi, Deborah Pajalunga, Marco Crescenzi, Ian Marc Bonapace, Pier Paolo Di Fiore
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.