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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Life Begins and Ends with a KiSS.

Brian Whitlock, Assistant ProfessorCollege of Veterinary Medicine - Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences

The spread of tumor cells from a primary tumor to other parts of the body (metastases) is the most life-threatening complication of cancer and is responsible for most cancer deaths. In 1996, scientists set out to identify genes responsible for suppressing metastasis and made exciting new discoveries in cancer research. One gene was expressed uniquely in nonmetastatic cells. The gene was named KiSS for its role as a metastasis suppressor sequence (SS) – with acknowledgment of the discovery’s occurrence in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the Hershey’s chocolate Kiss. The central functions of KiSS in regulating reproduction were unnoticed until 2003, when three groups independently reported mutations of the KiSS receptor in humans and mice suffering from hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a syndrome characterized by delayed or absent pubertal development. This presentation highlights the roles of KiSS in the beginning (reproduction) and ending (cancer) of life and ongoing research at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.​

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