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Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Apr;25(2):246-58. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2013.02.003. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Noncanonical roles of the immune system in eliciting oncogene addiction.

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  • 1Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Cancer is highly complex. The magnitude of this complexity makes it highly surprising that even the brief suppression of an oncogene can sometimes result in rapid and sustained tumor regression, illustrating that cancers can be 'oncogene addicted' [1-10]. The essential implication is that oncogenes may not only fuel the initiation of tumorigenesis, but in some cases must be excessively activated to maintain a neoplastic state [11]. Oncogene suppression acutely restores normal physiological programs that effectively overrides secondary genetic events and a cancer collapses [12,13]. Oncogene addiction is the description of the dramatic and sustained regression of some cancers upon the specific inactivation of a single oncogene [1-13,14(••),15,16(••)], that can occur through tumor intrinsic [1,2,4,12], but also host immune mechanisms [17-23]. Notably, oncogene inactivation elicits a host immune response that involves specific immune effectors and cytokines that facilitate a remodeling of the tumor microenvironment including the shut down of angiogenesis and the induction of cellular senescence of tumor cells [16(••)]. Hence, immune effectors are not only critically involved in tumor prevention, initiation [17-19], and progression [20], but also appear to be essential to tumor regression upon oncogene inactivation [21,22(••),23(••)]. Understanding how the inactivation of an oncogene elicits a systemic signal in the host that prompts a deconstruction of a tumor could have important implications. The combination of oncogene-targeted therapy together with immunomodulatory therapy may be ideal for the development of both robust tumor intrinsic and immunological responses, effectively leading to sustained tumor regression.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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