Cancer gene discovery: Exploiting insertional mutagenesis

Marco Ranzani, Stefano Annunziato, David J. Adams, Eugenio Montini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Insertional mutagenesis has been used as a functional forward genetics screen for the identification of novel genes involved in the pathogenesis of human cancers. Different insertional mutagens have been successfully used to reveal new cancer genes. For example, retroviruses are integrating viruses with the capacity to induce the deregulation of genes in the neighborhood of the insertion site. Retroviruses have been used for more than 30 years to identify cancer genes in the hematopoietic system and mammary gland. Similarly, another tool that has revolutionized cancer gene discovery is the cut-and-paste transposons. These DNA elements have been engineered to contain strong promoters and stop cassettes that may function to perturb gene expression upon integration proximal to genes. In addition, complex mouse models characterized by tissue-restricted activity of transposons have been developed to identify oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes that control the development of a wide range of solid tumor types, extending beyond those tissues accessible using retrovirus-based approaches. Most recently, lentiviral vectors have appeared on the scene for use in cancer gene screens. Lentiviral vectors are replication-defective integrating vectors that have the advantage of being able to infect nondividing cells, in a wide range of cell types and tissues. In this review, we describe the various insertional mutagens focusing on their advantages/limitations, and we discuss the new and promising tools that will improve the insertional mutagenesis screens of the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1158
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)

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