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Biochem Soc Symp. 1998;63:211-21.

Somatic mutations that contribute to breast cancer.

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Oncogenetics Section, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Cytogenetic and molecular analyses of primary sporadic human breast carcinomas have documented at least 12 different chromosome arms affected by loss of heterozygosity (LOH). This has been taken as evidence for the presence of putative tumour suppressor genes in the remaining allele within the affected regions. We have previously identified three regions on chromosome 17q that are affected by LOH in primary human breast tumours. A physical map of one of these regions (17q21) has been prepared. The putative target gene appears to be located between the D17S846 and D17S746 loci. We are currently determining whether either of two genes located in this region is the target for LOH. The mouse mammary tumour model system provides an approach for identifying genes which, when activated or inactivated by mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV) integration, contribute to specific stages of mammary tumorigenesis. Using this approach we have identified two genes, designated NOTCH4/INT3 and INT6 respectively. Interruption of NOTCH4/INT3 by MMTV represents a gain-of-function mutation that has profound consequences for mammary gland development and tumorigenesis. INT6 was found to be interrupted by an integrated MMTV genome in a mammary hyperplastic outgrowth line and two independent mammary tumours. In each case the transcriptional orientation of the viral genome was opposite to that of INT6. The rearranged allele was expressed as a truncated chimaeric RNA species composed of INT6 coding sequences, intron sequences and MMTV sequences. Since the non-rearranged allele contained no mutations, we conclude that MMTV integration into INT6 causes a dominant-negative mutation or biologically activates its function. The nucleotide sequence of INT6 is unrelated to any of the known genes in the GenBank database, but is evolutionarily highly conserved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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