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Am J Pathol. 2002 Jun;160(6):2295-307.

A mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma: ectopic expression of fibroblast growth factor 19 in skeletal muscle of transgenic mice.

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Department of Pathology, Genentech Incorporated, South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


Most mouse models of hepatocellular carcinoma have expressed growth factors and oncogenes under the control of a liver-specific promoter. In contrast, we describe here the formation of liver tumors in transgenic mice overexpressing human fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) in skeletal muscle. FGF19 transgenic mice had elevated hepatic alpha-fetoprotein mRNA as early as 2 months of age, and hepatocellular carcinomas were evident by 10 months of age. Increased proliferation of pericentral hepatocytes was demonstrated by 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine incorporation in the FGF19 transgenic mice before tumor formation and in nontransgenic mice injected with recombinant FGF19 protein. Areas of small cell dysplasia were initially evident pericentrally, and dysplastic/neoplastic foci throughout the hepatic lobule were glutamine synthetase-positive, suggestive of a pericentral origin. Consistent with chronic activation of the Wingless/Wnt pathway, 44% of the hepatocellular tumors from FGF19 transgenic mice had nuclear staining for beta-catenin. Sequencing of the tumor DNA encoding beta-catenin revealed point mutations that resulted in amino acid substitutions. These findings suggest a previously unknown role for FGF19 in hepatocellular carcinomas.

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