Integration of hepatitis virus DNA near c-myc in woodchuck hepatocellular carcinoma
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A total of 33 hepatocellular carcinomas, induced in woodchucks by chronic infection with woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV), a virus closely related to the human hepatitis B virus, were analyzed for the state of viral DNA, the expression of viral genes and of different cellular proto-oncogenes. Low levels of viral replication and presence of integrated viral forms including sequences of the enhancer element, appeared as a general rule in these tumors. Enhanced expression of one or more of the nuclear protooncogenes: c-myc, N-myc, c-fos, c-jun and jun-B was frequently observed. In two hepatomas, elevated expression and allelic alterations of c-myc were subsequent to integration of WHV DNA near the c-myc coding domain. The viral strategy for insertional activation of c-myc in these tumors appeared basically identical to that of mammalian retroviruses in T-cell lymphomas of mice and rats. Whether insertional mutagenesis of different oncogenes may be more generally linked to liver oncogenesis induced by WHV and hepatitis B viruses remains to be determined.
Key wordsc-myc proto-oncogene hepatitis B virus hepatocellular carcinoma insertional mutagenesis woodchuck
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