Retinoblastoma Genetics Explained
Chromosomes are structures of DNA and protein that can be seen under a microscope. Genes can only be decoded using DNA analysis or molecular genetics.
Genes are copied during the constant process of cell division that causes us to grow. Mistakes can happen during that process.
Genes That Initiate Retinoblastoma
Retinoblastoma genetics are complex, involving a number of different genes. Below we focus on the two genes that spark eye cancer in children.
The RB1 gene is found on chromosome 13q. We all have two copies – one inherited from each parent. Benign retinoma forms when both copies of the gene in a single retinal cell are damaged. Subsequent mutations on other genes in the cell cause the retinoma to become malignant retinoblastoma, and influence how fast it grows.
The MYCN gene (pronounced “Mick-En”) is located on chromosome 2p. Retinoblastoma forms when a child acquires too many copies of this gene in a single retinal cell. Subsequent mutations on other genes in the cell determine how fast the cancer develops.