Some patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) -- a cancer of B cells -- harbor a particular mutation in the gene encoding the receptor for B cell activating factor (BAFF), according to a paper published online on November 1 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. BAFF, a soluble protein needed for B cell survival and maturation, is elevated in the blood of some NHL patients and is associated with poor prognosis.
This BAFF-R mutation, identified by a team led by Anne Novak and Gail Bishop, generates a receptor that transmits stronger than normal signals, thus boosting B cell function.
Although present in fewer than 10% of the tumors analyzed in the study, this mutation provides further evidence of the importance of BAFF signaling in this dangerous malignancy.
Hildebrand, J.M., et al. 2010. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20100857