'Mahjong' Gene Key Player in Cell Battles

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., July 13 (UPI) — British and U.S. scientists say they’ve found a gene playing a key role when normal and cancerous cells compete, and have named it the “Mahjong” gene.

Florida State University biologists and researchers in Britain discovered the gene is involved in a life-or-death “cell competition” process that suppresses cancer by causing cancerous cells to kill themselves, an FSU release said Tuesday.

The “Mahjong” gene can determine the winners of the competition through its close relationship with another powerful protein player, researchers said.

Researchers named the new-found gene after the Chinese game of skill and luck.

The study findings shed light on the critical interactions between cancerous cells and surrounding tissue,

Scientists discovered Mahjong binds to and interacts with a tumor suppressor gene in a bond that bond allows Mahjong to influence the outcome of cell competition, the release said.

“A better understanding of the ways that inherited or acquired mutations in key proteins lead to cell competition should help foster new therapies that increase the odds of victory for normal cells,” said study author Yoichiro Tamori of Florida State’s Department of Biological Science.

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