Molecular mechanism of stomach carcinogenesis

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Abstract

Gene changes in multiple oncogenes, multiple growth factors and multiple tumor-suppressor genes are observed in stomach cancer. Among them, those most commonly implicated in both well-differentiated adenocarcinoma and poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma are inactivation (mutations and allele loss) of the p53 gene, and activation (abnormal expression and amplification) of the c-met gene. Moreover, they occur at an early stage of stomach carcinogenesis. In addition, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on chromosome 5q (APC locus) is frequently associated with well-differentiated adenocarcinoma. LOH on chromosome 18q (DCC locus) and LOH of thebcl-2 gene also are common events of well-differentiated adenocarcinoma. LOH on chromosomes 1q and 7q may be involved in the progression of well-differentiated adenocarcinoma. Conversely, the development of poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma, in addition to changes in p53 and c-met genes, requires reduction or dysfunction of cadherin. Overexpression ofbcl-2 protein is observed in poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma or signetring cell carcinoma. Moreover, the K-sam gene is amplified preferentially in poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma or scirrhous carcinoma. K-sam amplification in scirrhous carcinoma often occurs independently of c-met gene amplification. LOH on chromosome 1p also is relatively common in poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. Exceptionally, signetring cell carcinoma shares APC mutations. There are some differences in expression of the growth-factor/receptor system between well-differentiated adenocarcinoma and poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. Moreover, interaction between cell-adhesion molecules in tumor cells expressing c-met and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) from stromal cells is linked with morphogenesis of two histological types of stomach cancer. Intestinal metaplasia and adenoma of the stomach also contain p53 mutation and K-ras mutations ortpr-met rearrangement. Taken together, different genetic pathways of stomach carcinogenesis may exist for poorly differentiated and well-differentiated stomach cancers. Some of the latter may develop by a cumulative series of gene alterations similar to those of colorectal cancer.

The “Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology” publishes in loose succession “Editorials” and “Guest editorials” on current and/or controversial problems in experimental and clinical oncology. These contributions represent exclusively the personal opinion of the author The Editors