The identification of tumor-inducing genes is a driving force for elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer. Many retroviruses induce tumors by insertion of viral DNA adjacent to cellular oncogenes, resulting in altered expression and/or structure of the encoded proteins. The availability of the mouse genome sequence now allows analysis of retroviral common integration sites in murine tumors to be used as a genetic screen for identification of large numbers of candidate cancer genes. By positioning the sequences of inverse PCR-amplified, virus-host junction fragments within the mouse genome, 19 target genes were identified in T-cell lymphomas induced by the retrovirus SL3-3. The candidate cancer genes included transcription factors (Fos, Gfi1, Lef1, Myb, Myc, Runx3, and Sox3), all three D cyclins, Ras signaling pathway components (Rras2/TC21 and Rasgrp1), and Cmkbr7/CCR7. The most frequent target was Rras2. Insertions as far as 57 kb away from the transcribed portion were associated with substantially increased transcription of Rras2, and no coding sequence mutations, including those typically involved in Ras activation, were detected. These studies demonstrate the power of genome-based analysis of retroviral insertion sites for cancer gene discovery, identify several new genes worth examining for a role in human cancer, and implicate the pathways in which those genes act in lymphomagenesis. They also provide strong genetic evidence that overexpression of unmutated Rras2 contributes to tumorigenesis, thus suggesting that it may also do so if it is inappropriately expressed in human tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science