[Frontiers in Bioscience 3, d944-960, September 1, 1998]

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Jose Russo, Xiaoqi Yang, Yun-Fu Hu, Betsy A. Bove, Yajue Huang, Ismael D.C.G. Silva, Quivo Tahin, Yuli Wu, Nadia Higgy, Abdel Zekri, and Irma H. Russo

Breast Cancer Research Laboratory, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Received 12/17/97 Accepted 7/21/98


Human breast cancer remains the most common malignancy and second leading cause of cancer death in the American women. The ultimate cure of this disease relies on a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the initiation and progression of this disease. The neoplastic transformation of HBEC in vitro represents a successful model for obtaining knowledge on the molecular and biological alterations that may contribute to the tumorigenic mechanisms (reviews in 4, 7, 20, 175, 176). We have presented here a current understanding of chemically transformed HBEC in the following aspects: 1. Factors affecting the transformation of HBEC such as genetic predisposition and differentiation status and prior immortalization; 2. New targets for studying the mechanism of cell immortalization such as alterations in telomerase activity and differential expression of cell cycle dependent genes as well as others recently isolated through differential cloning such as H-ferritin, and a calcium binding protein; 3. Epigenetic and genetic mechanisms underlying cell transformation; 4. The association of microsatellite instability in specific loci on chromosomes 11, 13, and 16 with the progression of cell transformation; and 5. The application of microcell mediated chromosome transfer technique as an approach to testing the functional role of specific genes whose dysregulation or loss of function may contribute to the ultimate cell transformation. Further efforts in this cell system will be directed to determine the roles of identified molecular changes as well as the mapping/cloning of tumor suppressor or senescence genes such as those that may reside on chromosome 11 or 17.