The NF2 gene, also known as “Merlin”, was discovered through studies into Neurofibromatosis Type II, a rare genetic disease which causes formation of non-malignant, but life-limiting, brain tumors. NF2 encodes a cytoskeletal protein involved in extracellular signalling (i.e. cell-to-cell). It is also known to act as a tumor suppressor to several membrane-bound growth factors, including the oncogene EGFR. We at Novus Biologicals have a large selection of antibodies and lysates in our catalog for Merlin studies.
Antibodystudies into EGFR have shown overproduction leads to several cancers, including hepatic cancer. A new study set out to look at the role NF2 plays in preventing formation of these hepatic tumors, with the aim of developing a new animal model for human studies. The work focused on the activity of EGFR in the presence and absence of Merlin/NF2, in hepatic stem cells of fetal and adult mice. Earlier research suggested that hepatic stem cells may cause some types of tumor in rodents, and that this may be blocked by NF2.
It was shown that NF2-deficient infant mice rapidly developed over-growths of progenitor stem cells, which normally act as a “back-up” to the more numerous hepatocytes. Loss of liver function was followed by the growth of two types of tumor. NF2-blocking in adult mice had no effect until part of the liver was surgically removed, triggering production of both types of stem cell (progenitor cells are normally only called into action following traumatic tissue loss in adults). Again, tumors developed.
The study revealed a possible new animal model, and exciting evidence of the link between unregulated stem cell production and cancer. Reagents for both stem cell and cancer research form an important part of our extensive antibody catalog.