Techniques for Identifying Cancer Genes

  • Wen-Ching Lee
  • Joseph R. Testa


Tumorigenesis is a multistep process involving a series of acquired genetic changes, including the activation of proto-oncogenes and the inactivation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs). Cancer genes usually are identified based on their mechanisms of action. Proto-oncogenes encode various components of the signaling pathways that promote cell growth. A proto-oncogene can become oncogenic if it is expressed in excessive amounts or in inappropriate tissues; such forms of expression may be associated with a chromosomal translocation or gene amplification. Mutations in the coding region of a proto-oncogene, or translocation-mediated fusion of a proto-oncogene with another gene, also can result in protein products that have altered functions and thus become oncogenic. In contrast to dominantly acting oncogenes, TSGs are involved in tumorigenesis in a recessive manner. Their gene products provide signals that constrain cell proliferation, and one functional copy of the gene in each cell is sufficient to provide normal growth control. Only when both alleles of the TSG are inactivated by mutations or deletions does the neoplastic phenotype manifest itself in a cell.


Tumor Suppressor Gene Malignant Mesothelioma Representational Difference Analysis Test Fragment Short Tandem Repeat Polymorphism 


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© Current Medicine, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wen-Ching Lee
  • Joseph R. Testa

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