• Question: How are translocations related to cancer?

    Asked by yourmum to Meeks, Pete, Stephen, Steve, Tom on 25 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Stephen Curry

      Stephen Curry answered on 19 Jun 2010:

      I’m really not sure about this. Translocations occur when different bits of your chromosomes swap about – this leads to rearrangements of genes on different chromosomes.

      The body relies on a highly complex regulation of genes to operate normally, so there is always a chance when such rearrangements happen that this will lead to abnormalities – one of which could be cancerous growth of some cells.

      I never properly trained as a biologist I’m afraid (I have a GCSE in the subject but no higher qualification) – please don’t tell the bosses at the university!

    • Photo: Marieke Navin

      Marieke Navin answered on 22 Jun 2010:

      Sorry dude, I don’t know what translocations are!

    • Photo: Tom Hartley

      Tom Hartley answered on 25 Jun 2010:

      Cancer occurs when the genetic mechanisms that control the growth and division of cells in the body go wrong, leading to uncontrolled cell division. As I understand it (I am no expert) this is normally due to a genetic mutation within the cell. One type of mutation is a translocation, in which a piece of DNA (a very long strand) is chopped of at one point, and stuck back on in the wrong place. I am *guessing* here, but I believe the expression of a gene (say one controlling cell division) is often controlled by other nearby genes. So translocation might cause problems by taking critical genes away from their “minders”, letting them run wild. This is just speculation on my part, and you would probably need to discuss it with a cancer specialist to get a more accurate answer.