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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 1;105(13):5242-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801197105. Epub 2008 Mar 20.

Oncogene cooperation in tumor maintenance and tumor recurrence in mouse mammary tumors induced by Myc and mutant Kras.

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Program in Cancer Biology and Genetics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Most, if not all, cancers are composed of cells in which more than one gene has a cancer-promoting mutation. Although recent evidence has shown the benefits of therapies targeting a single mutant protein, little attention has been given to situations in which experimental tumors are induced by multiple cooperating oncogenes. Using combinations of doxycycline-inducible and constitutive Myc and mutant Kras transgenes expressed in mouse mammary glands, we show that tumors induced by the cooperative actions of two oncogenes remain dependent on the activity of a single oncogene. Deinduction of either oncogene individually, or both oncogenes simultaneously, led to partial or complete tumor regression. Prolonged remission followed deinduction of Kras(G12D) in the context of continued Myc expression, deinduction of a MYC transgene with continued expression of mutant Kras produced modest effects on life extension, whereas simultaneous deinduction of both MYC and Kras(G12D) transgenes further improved survival. Disease relapse after deinduction of both oncogenes was associated with reactivation of both oncogenic transgenes in all recurrent tumors, often in conjunction with secondary somatic mutations in the tetracycline transactivator transgene, MMTV-rtTA, rendering gene expression doxycycline-independent. These results demonstrate that tumor viability is maintained by each gene in a combination of oncogenes and that targeted approaches will also benefit from combination therapies.

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