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Semin Cancer Biol. 1999 Aug;9(4):277-88.

Molecular genetics of breast cancer progression.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.


Somatic changes in the genome of breast cancer cells include amplifications, deletions and gene mutations. Several chromosome regions harboring known oncogenes are found amplified in breast tumors. Despite the high number of chromosome regions deleted in breast tumors the functional relationship to known genes at these locations and cancer growth is mainly undiscovered. Mutations in two tumor suppressor genes (TSG) have been described in a subset of breast carcinomas. These TSG are the TP53, encoding the p53 transcription factor, and the CDH1, encoding the cadherin cell adhesion molecule. Breast tumors of patients with a germ-line mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have an increase of additional genetic defects compared with sporadic breast tumors. This higher frequency of genetic aberrations could pinpoint genes that selectively promote tumor progression in individuals predisposed to breast cancer due to BRCA1 or BRCA2 germ-line mutations. Accumulation of somatic genetic changes during tumor progression may follow a specific and more aggressive pathway of chromosome damage in these individuals. Although the sequence of molecular events in the progression of breast tumor is poorly understood the detected genetic alterations fit the model of multistep carcinogenesis in both sporadic and hereditary breast cancer. This review will focus on the genetic lesions within the breast cancer cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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