Of these, 50 correspond to known human cancer genes, according to a paper in Cell.

A team of investigators have identified just over 10,000 mutations that together implicate almost 350 regions in the mouse genome in cancer formation.  DNA of more than 500 lymphomas were examined, and an average of 20 mutations from each tumor was found.

By comparing the mutations between the tumors, the team was able to understand which genes work together in the same cell to transform it into a lymphoma. Of the almost 350 regions identified, 50 of these correspond to genes known to be involved in human cancers, including p53 and p19, while the other regions were novel, report the scientists.

The scientists used a virus called the murine leukemia virus to produce mutations in cancer genes. The virus targets white blood cells, resulting in lymphoma. “Human cancers are generally thought to be formed by the stepwise accumulation of mutations that disrupt genes within a cell,” explains David Adams, Ph.D., senior author on the paper and leader of the experimental cancer genetics team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “The virus mimics this process as it inserts itself into the mouse genome. The virus then acts as a tag, allowing us to identify where it has integrated and which gene or genes have been disrupted.”

The results were obtained by an international consortium of researchers led by The Netherlands Cancer Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. The results will be published in  the May 16 issue of Cell.

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