Explain the normal role of a tumor suppressor gene and the relevance of a loss-of-function mutation in one of these genes. Give an example of a tumor suppressor gene and the mechanism by which the loss of that gene may favor a cell becoming cancerous.
Tumor suppressor genes play a critical role in preventing cancer by controlling cell growth and division, ensuring genetic stability, and inducing cell death if cells become damaged. Loss-of-function mutations in these genes can result in the loss of their tumor suppressor function, leading to the development of cancer.
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An example of a tumor suppressor gene is the TP53 gene. TP53 acts as a guardian of the genome by monitoring DNA damage and inducing cell death if the damage cannot be repaired. Loss-of-function mutations in TP53 result in the loss of its ability to induce cell death, leading to the accumulation of damaged cells and the development of cancer.