Pathway of the Month
- Alterations in alternative splicing affect essential biologic processes and are the basis for a number of pathologic conditions, including cancer. In this review we will summarize the evidence supporting the relevance of alternative splicing in lung cancer. An example that illustrates this relevance is the altered balance between Bcl-xL and Bcl-xS, two splice variants of the apoptosis regulator Bcl-x. Splice modifications in cancer-related genes can be associated with modifications either in cis-acting splicing regulatory sequences or in trans-acting splicing factors.
- Protected telomeres ensure normal chromosomal segregation during mitosis but at the same time can endow genetically abnormal cancer cells with immortality. Telomerase has a pivotal role in telomere protection, both in normal and cancer cells. Understanding the functional interplay between telomere shortening and telomerase expression in cancer cells is of critical importance to elucidating the precise mechanisms by which these cells are able to bypass telomere crisis and become immortal.
- The lymphatic vasculature maintains tissue homeostasis and sustains immune function by guiding leukocytes and activated antigen presenting cells toward the lymph nodes. The lymphatic system is also relevant in cancer progression because cancer cells frequently spread out of the original tumor through the lymphatic capillaries.1 The detection of cancer cells in lymphatic vessels and regional lymph nodes is a key criterion in the staging of many human tumors, including lung cancer, and is used as decisive element for therapeutic intervention.