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Nat Rev Cancer. 2010 Nov;10(11):794-802. doi: 10.1038/nrc2942. Epub 2010 Oct 22.

Walls around tumours - why plants do not develop cancer.

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John Innes Centre, Conley Lane, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.


In plants, as in animals, most cells that constitute the organism limit their reproductive potential in order to provide collective support for the immortal germ line. And, as in animals, the mechanisms that restrict the proliferation of somatic cells in plants can fail, leading to tumours. There are intriguing similarities in tumorigenesis between plants and animals, including the involvement of the retinoblastoma pathway as well as overlap with mechanisms that are used for stem cell maintenance. However, plant tumours are less frequent and are not as lethal as those in animals. We argue that fundamental differences between plant and animal development make it much more difficult for individual plant cells to escape communal controls.

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