Transgenic models of human cancer.

S. H. Hinrichs, J. D. Fontes, N. D. Bills, Philip D Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Transgenic animal technology has been useful for the direct demonstration of the tumorigenic potential of oncogenes in vivo. Over the past eight years a wide variety of oncogenes and proto-oncogenes from viral and cellular sources have been inserted into the germline of mice with subsequent development of neoplasia. Many of the published reports describe similarities between morphologic features of the transgenic mice tumors and those occurring naturally in humans. We discuss the morphologic features of selected transgenic models carrying viral genes and review their applicability to investigations directed toward understanding cancer in general and specifically gastric cancer, neurofibromatosis and leukemia. Examples of the impact of nutrition, interaction with growth factors and initiation with chemical carcinogens are presented. In one of the models functional similarities to the mechanism of oncogenesis in human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 (HTLV-1) lymphoma may exist with activation of cytokine production and subsequent autocrine stimulation. The transgenic model of proximal gastric cancer demonstrates features similar to those seen in carcinogen-induced neoplasia. These studies underscore the vast potential of transgenic models for inquiry into the genetic and epigenetic basis of human carcinogenesis. However, many features of transgenic cancer models differ from cancer in humans and the specific criteria for judging the value of transgenic models remain unclarified. For example, although the tumors arising in the HTLV-1 Tax transgenic mice show numerous similarities to human neurofibromatosis including development of lesions of the iris, the similarities do not necessarily extend to the molecular involvement of neurofibromatosis-1 (NF-1), a gene with structural and functional homology to GTPase activating proteins. Transgenic experiments of the future will ask questions beyond whether a particular gene is capable of initiating the neoplastic process. The ability to construct systems in vivo with a defined starting point that facilitate further controlled manipulation of events resulting in cancer provide great opportunities to dissect the various molecular pathways involved in such a process. Therefore, gene knockout experiments and disruption of gene function will further enhance our ability to understand the multi-factorial process of tumor development.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-274
Number of pages16
JournalPrincess Takamatsu symposia
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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