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Oncogene. 2000 Dec 11;19(53):6130-7.

Transgenic mouse models of human breast cancer.

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Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, McMaster University, Department of Biology, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The pathogenesis of human breast cancer is thought to involve multiple genetic events, the majority of which fall into two categories, gain of function mutations in proto-oncogenes such as c-myc, cyclin D1, ErbB-2 and various growth factors which are involved in supporting cell growth, division and survival, and loss of function mutations in so called 'tumor suppressor' genes, such as p53, which are involved in preventing unrestrained cellular growth. A number of mouse systems exist to address the significance of these mutations in the pathogenesis of breast cancer including transgenic mice expressing high levels of a specific gene in target tissues and knockout mice in which specific genes have been ablated via homologous recombination. More recently, the combination of these techniques to create bigenics as well as the use of 'knockin' and conditional tissue specific gene targeting strategies have allowed the models more reflective of the human disease to be devised. Studies with these models have not only implicated particular genetic events in the progression of the disease but have emphasized the complex, multi-step nature of breast cancer progression. These models also provide the opportunity to study various aspects of the pathogenesis of this disease, from hormonal effects to responses to chemotherapeutic drugs. It is hoped that through the combined use of these models, and the further development of more relevant models, that a deeper understanding of this disease and the generation of new therapeutic agents will result.

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