Human Oncogenes

Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 94 / 2)


Oncogenes were first characterised as distinct genes in acutely transforming RNA tumour viruses. A combination of genetic and molecular techniques confirmed that a single gene carried by the virus, the viral oncogene, was solely responsible for the malignant growth of cells in the infected host (for review, see Bishop and Varmus 1984). There is no evidence to suggest that acutely transforming retroviruses play any role in the development of human malignancies, and a broader definition of an oncogene has evolved to encompass cellular sequences that are affected by genetic changes and thereby contribute to the initiation or maintenance of the malignant phenotype. The clearest example of this occurs when rearrangement, amplification or mutation of a gene is present in a tumour cell. In this case the gene is considered to be a proto-oncogene, the implication being that the genetic changes observed represent the conversion of this normal gene into a dominantly acting oncogene. In such cases, stronger justification for the term oncogene can be obtained by reintroducing the cloned gene into non-transformed cells and demonstrating a biological effect.


Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Viral Oncogene Avian Leukosis Virus Human Small Cell Lung Cancer Cellular Oncogene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

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  • A. Hall

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