A protein called α epithelial catenin (αE-catenin) appears to be important for preventing squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common skin cancer type after basal cell carcinoma, report scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (Silvis MR et al. Sci Signal. 2011;4:ra33).
The researchers found that squamous cell carcinoma developed in mice that lacked a copy of the αE-catenin gene in hair follicle stem cells. They also determined that αE-catenin controls the activity of the protein Yap1, which, if activated, can cause cancer. Yap1 is part of a signaling pathway that controls tissue growth and also is implicated in the regulation of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation.
Hampton T. Skin Cancer Target. JAMA. 2011;306(1):30. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.910