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Bioessays. 1995 Dec;17(12):1017-23.

Melanoma formation in Xiphophorus: a model system for the role of receptor tyrosine kinases in tumorigenesis.

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Department of Physiological Chemistry I, University of Würzburg, FRG.


Cancer is one of the most frequent fatal human diseases. It is a genetic disease, and molecular analysis of the genes involved revealed that they belong to several distinct classes of molecules, one of which is the receptor tyrosine kinases. Neoplastic transformation is regarded as the result of a multistep process and, in most cases, it is hard to evaluate what the initial events in tumor formation are. What makes it difficult to approach this question is the paucity of animals models for tumorigenesis allowing investigation of the mechanisms leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation. Melanoma formation in Xiphophorus is one of these model systems. Here, overexpression and activation of a receptor tyrosine kinase causes neoplastic transformation of pigment cells. Xiphophorus provides all the advantages of a well-characterized genetic system. In addition, some crucial components of the transformation pathway have been identified at the molecular level. As a vertebrate, Xiphophorus might serve as a model system to aid understanding, in more general terms, of the mechanisms of tumorigenesis in human diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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