Peter Beitsch, MD/

Zombie Gene key to cancer prevention?

Hopefully the title sucked you in.  Elephants have 20 copies of p53 and that was thought to be the reason for their lack of cancer production.  However that is not the entire answer and it is more complicated (shocker).  There is another gene that protects against cancer LIF (leukemia inhibitory factor) and is involved in fertility/reproduction [there is a natural balance between promoting the growth in the embryo/fetus and inhibiting unregulated growth in cancer].  Elephants have 11 copies of LIF - OK makes sense, a double check on cancer growth.  However 10 of the 11 LIF genes are 'dead' pseudogenes (maybe 20-30% of most mammalian genomes) that do not function, but that 11th pseudogene came back from the dead and now functions (actually activated by p53 so they work in tandem).  Pretty cool and BOLO - I'm sure next gen sequencing will make for many many new discoveries hidden in our genomes!https://www.wired.com/story/a-zombie-gene-protects-elephants-from-cancer/?mbid=nl_111217_daily_list3_p4

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