Retrovirus Transforms Normal Animal Cells Into Cancer Cells, Finds University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Researchers

April 16, 1997

San Diego, April 10 -- A retrovirus that was isolated from mouse melanomas can transform normal mouse melanocytes into melanoma cells, according to research being presented by UPCI scientists on April 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. "This is the first evidence that a retrovirus can cause the development of melanoma," said Elieser Gorelik, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Melanocytes are the skin's pigment-forming cells that become malignantly transformed into life-threatening melanoma, whose underlying causes remain obscure. The incidence of melanoma is increasing more rapidly than any other cancer.

In their study, the researchers grew mouse melanocytes in the laboratory and exposed them to C-type ecotropic retrovirus derived from a mouse melanoma called B16. Infected cells then changed shape and started behaving like melanoma cells.

The melanoma-associated retrovirus belongs to the family of mouse leukemia viruses that has been shown to induce leukemia and lymphoma in mice. These retroviruses do not contain an oncogene, or cancer-causing gene. Thus, the researchers speculate that the melanoma-associated retrovirus inserts itself randomly into a normal melanocyte's genetic material. There, it somehow upsets normal cellular genetic activity, perhaps by triggering the abnormal expression of one of the cell's own oncogenes or by interfering with a cell's tumor suppresser gene, which normally prevents the cell from becoming cancerous. As a result, normal melanocytes might undergo malignant transformation.

The researchers' current goal is to find out which cellular genes the virus is disturbing. "Once we have this information, we can look at human melanomas to determine whether the same cellular genes are also acting incorrectly. These findings can help us understand the molecular mechanisms underlying melanoma in people," remarked Dr. Gorelik.
-end-


University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.