Role of gene and chromosomal mutations in cell transformation

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1983

Study Abstract

To understand the role of mutagenesis in carcinogenesis fully, we must consider all types of mutations including gene, chromosomal, and gene-number mutations and all changes involved in the progressive development of neoplastic cells.

We have found that certain known human carcinogens (i.e., DES and asbestos), which were classified as epigenetic carcinogens based on gene-mutation assays, have mutational activity at the chromosomal level that correlates with their ability to induce cell transformation. This should caution against classification of chemicals as genotoxic or epigenetic without a complete understanding of their mechanism of action.

Furthermore, our studies indicate that more than gene-mutation assays is needed for carcinogen testing. In particular, chromosomal changes induced by chemicals, both aberrations and aneuploidy, need to be carefully assessed.

In addition, the role of all types of mutation in the overall process of neoplastic transformation needs to be determined. This can only be examined by studying each individual change involved in neoplastic progression.

Thus, any attempt to assess a chemical’s carcinogenic potential should consider not only all types of mutational changes but both early and late changes involved in neoplastic transformation.


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