The development of cancer involves a myriad of genetic changes that impact on multiple processes important for the orderly regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Genes whose protein products are disrupted during neoplastic transformation are termed "tumor suppressor genes" (TSGs). Many of these TSGs are associated with familial cancer predisposition syndromes, in which affected individuals have an increased risk of certain malignancies. Studies on the mechanism of action for known TSGs have revealed three intracellular loci of critical importance: environmental sensing and signal initiation, signal propagation and transduction, and cell cycle control. The neurofibromatosis 1 and neurofibromatosis 2 genes are discussed as illustrative examples of tumor suppressors that function at the levels of signal transduction and environmental sensing, respectively.
- Tumor suppressor