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Methods Enzymol. 2006;407:637-47.

A genetically defined normal human somatic cell system to study ras oncogenesis in vivo and in vitro.

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Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


Transgenic mice, cultured murine cells, and human cancer cell lines have widely been used to study Ras oncogenesis. Although extremely valuable systems, they could not be used to study Ras function in genetically defined human cells. In this regard, Ras is required for tumor formation in normal human somatic cells expressing SV-40 T/t antigens, which inactivate the tumor suppressors p53 and Rb and activate the oncogene c-Myc, and hTERT, the catalytic subunit of telomerase. Such a system allows not only the general requirements of Ras to be dissected in matched cells from different organisms or tissues but also the individual pathways required for tumor growth to be defined in human cells. This review will detail the methods of creating stable T/t Ag, TERT, Ras-expressing cell lines, as well as commonly used techniques of soft agar and xenograft tumor formation.

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