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Curr Opin Oncol. 2005 Mar;17(2):160-6.

Basal cell nevus syndrome.

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Department Level 6, Medical & Dental School University of Leeds, UK.



Basal cell nevus syndrome (BCNS), is a hereditary condition transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait exhibiting high penetrance and variable expressivity. Inherited or spontaneous mutations in the human homologue of the Drosophila patched gene underlie the disorder and in addition to tumor predisposition, are associated with a range of 'patterning' defects. Recent advances, with glimpses of possible therapies are emerging, but because of the wide-ranging nature of phenotypic expression and overlap with other syndromes, there is difficulty. Finally, because of the importance of PTCH and paralogous genes in many species other than humans, reports appear in a correspondingly wide range of journals, which makes 'keeping abreast' difficult.


Progress has been achieved in understanding the role of Gli-1, 2, & 3 in development of 'sporadic' BCCs and BCNS. Expression of PTCH1 is now known to be regulated by alternative promoters and a single functional Gli-binding site. Expression of FOXE1 as a new transcriptional target of Gli2 has been demonstrated in human epidermis and BCCs. Finally, the discovery of Shh pathway inhibitors such as cyclopamine, a naturally occurring alkaloid and ornithine decarboxylase inhibition suggest possible interventional therapies.


In BCNS, phenotype does not correlate with position of mutations within Patched, suggesting genetic makeup and environment modulate effects of premature protein truncation induced by PTCH mutation. These developmental abnormalities occur as a result of haplo-insufficiency in heterozygotes for the mutated gene, whereas neoplastic complications arise from a classical two-hit tumor suppressor gene model. Attention is therefore turning toward TP53 and PTCH associations.

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