Role of Cancer Genes

This flash animation shows you how DNA mutations are involved in the development of cancer. 

In this animation you will discover how mutations in two types of genes can lead to the development of cancer.  Proto-oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes are two types of gene essential for the control of cell division. When these genes are mutated the control of cell division is lost and a cell can develop into a cancer.

Proto-oncogenes are involved in driving cell division, like the accelerator in a car. If these genes become mutated they can act like stuck accelerators, constantly telling the cell to divide. This uncontrolled cell division can lead to the formation of a tumour. When a proto-oncogene is mutated it is called an oncogene.

Tumour suppressor genes are normally involved in stopping cell division, like the brake in a car. This enables the cell to check that the environment is right for the cell to divide and to ensure that DNA replication occurs accurately. Ultimately, this prevents uncontrolled cell division and the formation of tumours. If tumour-suppressor genes become mutated, they can no longer stop cell division. This is much like a car with broken brakes. Cell division will carry on unchecked regardless of the surrounding conditions. This can also result in tumour formation and cancer. 

This page was last updated on 2014-12-01