The RCK gene was cloned through a study of the breakpoint of the t(11;14)(q23;q32) chromosomal translocation observed in a human B-cell lymphoma and overexpression of the protein (rck/p54) due to the translocation was shown to be associated with malignant transformation. The rck/p54 protein belongs to the DEAD box protein/RNA helicase family, which has a variety of functions such as translation initiation, pre-mRNA splicing and ribosome assembly. It is considered that rck/p54 protein may have significant effects on the mRNA structure of genes associated with cell proliferation, facilitating protein synthesis. Expression of rck/p54 in colorectal adenomas, which are a premalignant lesion of colorectal cancer, was examined by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. The rck/p54 protein was found to be overexpressed in tumor tissues resected from 17 of 26 cases (65.4%) of colorectal adenomas and 13 of 14 c-myc-positive cases (92.8%) also co-overexpressed rck/p54 protein. Thus, a significant correlation between rck/p54 and c-myc co-overexpression was found (Spearman's rank correlation, P = 0.0018). We demonstrate that overexpression of rck/p54 in two different cell lines, COS 7 and human colorectal cancer cell line SW480, caused an increase in c-myc protein levels by enhancement of its translation efficiency and/or stabilization of its mRNA. These results suggest that rck/p54 of the DEAD box protein/RNA helicase family may contribute to cell proliferation and carcinogenesis in the development of human colorectal tumors at the translational level by increasing synthesis of c-myc protein.
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