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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Jun 1;19(11):2948-58.

Gene discovery using the serial analysis of gene expression technique: implications for cancer research.

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Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Cancer is a genetic disease. As such, our understanding of the pathobiology of tumors derives from analyses of the genes whose mutations are responsible for those tumors. The cancer phenotype, however, likely reflects the changes in the expression patterns of hundreds or even thousands of genes that occur as a consequence of the primary mutation of an oncogene or a tumor suppressor gene. Recently developed functional genomic approaches, such as DNA microarrays and serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), have enabled researchers to determine the expression level of every gene in a given cell population, which represents that cell population's entire transcriptome. The most attractive feature of SAGE is its ability to evaluate the expression pattern of thousands of genes in a quantitative manner without prior sequence information. This feature has been exploited in three extremely powerful applications of the technology: the definition of transcriptomes, the analysis of differences between the gene expression patterns of cancer cells and their normal counterparts, and the identification of downstream targets of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Comprehensive analyses of gene expression not only will further understanding of growth regulatory pathways and the processes of tumorigenesis but also may identify new diagnostic and prognostic markers as well as potential targets for therapeutic intervention.

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