Cancer/testis (CT) genes are one of the major groups of germline genes. They encode proteins known as cancer/testis antigens (CTAs), usually limited to the healthy adult testis. These antigens were initially identified by autologous typing, but thanks to PCR technology it became possible to identify them by expression patterns.
Little is understood about the role of CTAs in the testis. However, they are now also known to be activated during oncogenesis and have been observed in a diverse range of cancers. This makes them excellent cancer-specific biomarkers.
A paper, published in Molecular Cancer, has focused on human TEX19, a CT gene specific to human germ/stem cells. RT-qPCR and RNA sequencing were utilised to determine any changes to the transcriptome of cancer cells with TEX19 depleted. This was completed to uncover the functional role of TEX19 in cancer.
Figure taken from the paper to show how siRNA-mediated TEX19 mRNA depletion results in the inhibition of SW480 cancer cell proliferation (*???0.05; unpaired t-test).
Both in vitro and in vivo models were used to observe the effect of a reduction in the level of TEX19. In doing so, some of the major processes associated with oncogenesis became limited. This includes cell proliferation, self-renewal and tumour growth, suggesting TEX19 is required for these cancer cell processes.
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