Detection and Identification of Activated Oncogenes in Human Skin Cancers Occurring on Sun-exposed Body Sites

Honnavara N. Ananthaswamy, Janet E. Price, Leonard H. Goldberg, Elise S. Bales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


High-molecular-weight DNA isolated from eight fresh human skin cancers occurring on sun-exposed body sites were assayed for their ability to transform NIH 3T3 cells. A cotransfection protocol using pSV2-neo DNA, which confers resistance to the antibiotic G418, was used to select cells that had taken up the transfected DNA. About 2 weeks after transfection, G418-resistant colonies were pooled and injected s.c. into athymic nude mice. The NIH 3T3 cells transfected with DNA from six of the human skin cancers induced tumors in nude mice. DNAs from all six tumor cell lines contained human alu sequences. Southern blot hybridization with ras-specific probes revealed that DNAs from the four alu-rich tumors contained the human Ha-ras oncogene, in addition to that of the NIH 3T3 controls. In contrast, DNAs from the other two tumors did not contain any of the known oncogenes tested, except those endogenous to NIH 3T3 cells. DNAs from three of four first cycle tumorigenic transformants gave rise to morphologically transformed foci when assayed in a second cycle of transfection. DNAs from all three secondary transformants contained discrete human alu sequences, and in addition, contained Ha-ras sequences similar to those present in their respective primary transformants. Interestingly, DNA from both primary and secondary transformants of one particular human squamous cell carcinoma contained highly amplified copies of the Ha-ras oncogene. These results suggest that activation of the Ha-ras oncogene may be common in human skin cancer originating on sun-exposed body sites. Further characterization of the Ha-ras oncogenes present in these human skin cancers may provide information on the molecular mechanisms by which UV radiation of the sun induces human neoplasms on exposed body sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3341-3346
Number of pages6
JournalCancer research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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