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Nature. 1999 Jul 29;400(6743):468-72.

Essential role for oncogenic Ras in tumour maintenance.

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  • 1Adult Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA. lynda_chin@dfci.harvard.edu


Advanced malignancy in tumours represents the phenotypic endpoint of successive genetic lesions that affect the function and regulation of oncogenes and tumour-suppressor genes. The established tumour is maintained through complex and poorly understood host-tumour interactions that guide processes such as angiogenesis and immune sequestration. The many different genetic alterations that accompany tumour genesis raise questions as to whether experimental cancer-promoting mutations remain relevant during tumour maintenance. Here we show that melanoma genesis and maintenance are strictly dependent upon expression of H-RasV12G in a doxycycline-inducible H-Ras12G mouse melanoma model null for the tumour suppressor INK4a. Withdrawal of doxycycline and H-RasV12G down-regulation resulted in clinical and histological regression of primary and explanted tumours. The initial stages of regression involved marked apoptosis in the tumour cells and host-derived endothelial cells. Although the regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was found to be Ras-dependent in vitro, the failure of persistent endogenous and enforced VEGF expression to sustain tumour viability indicates that the tumour-maintaining actions of activated Ras extend beyond the regulation of VEGF expression in vivo. Our results provide genetic evidence that H-RasV12G is important in both the genesis and maintenance of solid tumours.

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