All cancers depend upon mutations in critical genes, which confer a selective advantage to the tumour cell. Knowledge of these mutations is crucial to understanding the biology of cancer initiation and progression, and to the development of targeted therapeutic strategies. The key to understanding the contribution of a disease-associated mutation to the development and progression of cancer, comes from an understanding of the consequences of that mutation on the function of the affected protein, and the impact on the pathways in which that protein is involved. In this paper we examine the mutation patterns observed in oncogenes and tumour suppressors, and discuss different approaches that have been developed to identify driver mutations within cancers that contribute to the disease progress. We also discuss the MOKCa database where we have developed an automatic pipeline that structurally and functionally annotates all proteins from the human proteome that are mutated in cancer.

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