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Cancer Res. 2004 Aug 1;64(15):5193-9.

Progression of pregnancy-dependent mouse mammary tumors after long dormancy periods. Involvement of Wnt pathway activation.

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  • 1ILEX-CONICET, División Medicina Experimental, Instituto de Investigaciones Hematológicas e Instituto de Estudios Oncológicos, Academia Nacional de Medicina, J.A. Pacheco de Melo 3081, (1425) Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Mouse mammary tumor virus (LA) induces pregnancy-dependent mammary tumors that progress toward autonomy. Here we show that in virgin females, pregnancy-dependent tumor transplants are able to remain dormant for up to 300 days. During that period, these tumors synthesize DNA, express high levels of estrogen and progesterone receptors (ER+PR+) and are able to resume growth after hormone stimulation. Surprisingly, in a subsequent transplant generation, all these tumors are fully able to grow in virgin females, they express low levels of ER and PR (ER-PR-) and have a monoclonal origin; i.e., show all of the features we have described previously in pregnancy-independent tumors. Histologically, mouse mammary tumor virus (LA)-induced tumors are morphologically similar to genetically engineered mouse (GEM) mammary tumors that overexpress genes belonging to the Wnt pathway. Interestingly, in the virus-induced neoplasias, pregnancy-independent passages arising after a dormant phase usually display a lower level of glandular differentiation together with epithelial cell trans-differentiation, a specific feature associated to Wnt pathway activation. In addition, dormancy can lead to the specific selection of Int2/Fgf3 mutated and overexpressing cells. Therefore, our results indicate that during hormone-dependent tumor dormancy, relevant changes in cell population occur, allowing rapid progression after changes in the animal internal milieu.

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