The cell cycle and cancer
Deregulation of the cell cycle underlies the aberrant cell proliferation that characterizes cancer and loss of cell cycle checkpoint control promotes genetic instability. During the past two decades, cancer genetics has shown that hyperactivating mutations in growth signalling networks, coupled to loss of function of tumour suppressor proteins, drives oncogenic proliferation. Gene expression profiling of these complex and redundant mitogenic pathways to identify prognostic and predictive signatures and their therapeutic targeting has, however, proved challenging. The cell cycle machinery, which acts as an integration point for information transduced through upstream signalling networks, represents an alternative target for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Analysis of the DNA replication initiation machinery and mitotic engine proteins in human tissues is now leading to the identification of novel biomarkers for cancer detection and prognostication, and is providing target validation for cell cycle-directed therapies. Copyright © 2011 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.