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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Dec 1;90(23):10914-21.

Antioncogenes and human cancer.

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  • 1Institute for Cancer Research, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111.


The antioncogenes, or tumor suppressor genes, as negative regulators of cell division, stand in contrast to oncogenes. For most human cancers, the more frequently mutated genes are the antioncogenes, the principal exception being the leukemias and lymphomas. Persons heterozygous for germ-line mutations in antioncogenes are strongly predisposed to one or more kinds of cancer, and most dominantly inherited cancer is attributable to such heterozygosity. Seven antioncogenes have been cloned through the study of these persons, and several others have been mapped. An eighth one was mapped and cloned through the investigation of tumors and is not yet known in hereditary form. Three dominantly inherited forms of cancer are not attributable to mutations in antioncogenes. The corresponding nonhereditary forms of most cancers generally reveal abnormalities of the same antioncogenes that are found in the hereditary forms but may also show additional ones. Some cancers, especially the embryonal tumors of children, have a small number of antioncogene mutations; some others, such as most sarcomas, have more, and the common carcinomas have the most, reflecting a hierarchy of controls over growth of stem cell populations. Still more members of this gene category remain to be mapped and cloned through the study of cancer families and of tumors. The genes that have been cloned act at diverse points in the signal transduction pathway in cells, from the outer cell membranes to sites of gene transcription, in some cases as negative regulators of oncogene expression.

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