The role of non-ras transforming genes in chemical carcinogenesis

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DNA transfection experiments using the NIH 3T3 mouse fibroblast cell line have demonstrated that chemically induced tumors and chemically transformed cell lines frequently contain dominant transforming genes. Although many of the genes detected using the NIH 3T3 transfection-transformation assay are activated versions of H-ras, K-ras, and N-ras, in some experimental systems activated forms of genes such as met and neu that are unrelated to ras have been observed. The activated met gene was originally detected in a human cell line that had been transformed by exposure to N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine. Subsequent studies demonstrated that the met proto-oncogene encodes a novel growth factor receptor and that gene activation involves the production of a chimeric gene in which the regions of met encoding the extracellular and transmembrane domains of the receptor are replaced by the 5'-region of an unrelated gene called trp. The activated neu gene was detected in tumors of the nervous system that arose in mice following transplacental exposure to N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea. The neu gene also encodes a novel growth factor receptor but, in contrast to met, its activation involves a single T:A → A:T point mutation in the region of the neu gene encoding the receptor transmembrane domain. The presence of genetic alterations in chemically induced malignancies has also been assessed in cytogenetic studies and by Southern analysis of DNA from neoplastic cells. These studies have demonstrated the presence of altered versions the c-myc and mos genes in plasmocytomas induced in mice following exposure to pristane or mineral oil and of activated pim-1 and c-myc genes in thymomas that arise in AKR mice following treatment with N-methyl-N-nitrosourea. Analyses of the mechanisms of activation of these non-ras genes has provided important insights into the different ways in which genes may become activated following chemical exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1991

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