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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jul 20;276(29):26737-40. Epub 2001 Jun 1.

Squamous cell tumors in mice heterozygous for a null allele of Atp2a2, encoding the sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase isoform 2 Ca2+ pump.

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Departments of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267, USA.


Mutations in the human ATP2A2 gene, encoding sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase isoform 2 (SERCA2), cause Darier disease, an autosomal dominant skin disease characterized by multiple keratotic papules in the seborrheic regions of the body. Mice with a single functional Atp2a2 allele (the mouse homolog of ATP2A2) were shown previously to have reduced levels of SERCA2 in heart and mildly impaired cardiac contractility and relaxation. Here we show that aged heterozygous mutant (Atp2a2(+/-)) mice develop squamous cell tumors of the forestomach, esophagus, oral mucosa, tongue, and skin. Squamous cell tumors occurred in 13/14 Atp2a2(+/-) mice but were not observed in age- and sex-matched wild-type controls. Hyperkeratinized squamous cell papillomas and carcinomas of the upper digestive tract were the most frequent finding among Atp2a2(+/-) mice, and many animals had multiple tumors. Western blot analyses showed that SERCA2 protein levels were reduced in skin and other affected tissues of heterozygous mice. The development of squamous cell tumors in aged Atp2a2(+/-) mice indicates that SERCA2 haploinsufficiency predisposes murine keratinocytes to neoplasia. These findings provide the first direct demonstration that a perturbation of Ca(2+) homeostasis or signaling can serve as a primary initiating event in cancer.

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