Perspective: chromosomal translocations can affect genes controlling gene expression and differentiation--why are these functions targeted?
Chromosomal translocations are important aetiological factors in many human cancers. These aberrant chromosomes cause enforced expression of oncogenes located near the breakpoints or results in tumour-specific fusion proteins. Among the characteristics which influence the tumourigenic effect, it is observed that the genes at translocation junctions are often transcription factors and often normally involved in developmental processes. Furthermore, protein-protein interactions are key elements in the mechanism by which the translocation gene products exert their pathogenic effects. In this review some of these salient features are discussed and generalizations are suggested which may be applicable to the influence of chromosomal translocations on acute forms of cancer.