In vitro models of early neoplastic transformation of human mammary epithelial cells

Band, V.

Methods in Molecular Biology 223: 237-248


ISSN/ISBN: 1064-3745
PMID: 12777735
DOI: 10.1385/1-59259-329-1:237
Accession: 049316446

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About 80% of all human cancers are carcinomas, representing oncogenic transformation of epithelial cells. In-vitro models of epithelial cell transformation are therefore of great interest to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of human cancer. Malignant transformation is a multistep process in which genetic changes and environmental factors, including viruses, carcinogens, radiation, and dietary factors, impinge on common cellular pathways resulting in uncontrolled proliferation, a hallmark of tumorigenic process (1,2). Understanding the nature of these cellular pathways is a central goal in cancer biology. A critical event in oncogenesis is the conversion of normal epithelial cells with a finite proliferative potential into cells endowed with an ability to multiply continuously, a trait that allows the accumulation of further genetic alterations resulting in full malignancy. In vitro, this behavior manifests as continuous proliferation of cells beyond their limited life span, a process referred to as immortalization. Understanding the biochemical basis of immortalization is therefore likely to point to crucial tumor suppressor pathways that ensure the untransformed state of normal epithelial cells.