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PLoS One. 2009 Oct 8;4(10):e7315. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007315.

Cancer genomics identifies regulatory gene networks associated with the transition from dysplasia to advanced lung adenocarcinomas induced by c-Raf-1.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine, Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Hannover, Germany.



Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer morbidity. To improve an understanding of molecular causes of disease a transgenic mouse model was investigated where targeted expression of the serine threonine kinase c-Raf to respiratory epithelium induced initially dysplasia and subsequently adenocarcinomas. This enables dissection of genetic events associated with precancerous and cancerous lesions.


By laser microdissection cancer cell populations were harvested and subjected to whole genome expression analyses. Overall 473 and 541 genes were significantly regulated, when cancer versus transgenic and non-transgenic cells were compared, giving rise to three distinct and one common regulatory gene network. At advanced stages of tumor growth predominately repression of gene expression was observed, but genes previously shown to be up-regulated in dysplasia were also up-regulated in solid tumors. Regulation of developmental programs as well as epithelial mesenchymal and mesenchymal endothelial transition was a hall mark of adenocarcinomas. Additionally, genes coding for cell adhesion, i.e. the integrins and the tight and gap junction proteins were repressed, whereas ligands for receptor tyrosine kinase such as epi- and amphiregulin were up-regulated. Notably, Vegfr- 2 and its ligand Vegfd, as well as Notch and Wnt signalling cascades were regulated as were glycosylases that influence cellular recognition. Other regulated signalling molecules included guanine exchange factors that play a role in an activation of the MAP kinases while several tumor suppressors i.e. Mcc, Hey1, Fat3, Armcx1 and Reck were significantly repressed. Finally, probable molecular switches forcing dysplastic cells into malignantly transformed cells could be identified.


This study provides insight into molecular pertubations allowing dysplasia to progress further to adenocarcinoma induced by exaggerted c-Raf kinase activity.

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