Current Cancer Research 1986 by Prof. Harald zur Hausen (auth.)

By Prof. Harald zur Hausen (auth.)

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These results obtained by in vitro fusion gave rise to the question as to whether metastatic tumor cell variants might not also arise in vivo under certain conditions from the fusion of a tumor cell with a normal host cell. Tumor-host cell fusions indeed appear to occur occasionally. The literature on such findings goes back to the beginning of the 1970s. It was only recently observed that metastatic variants can also be formed in vivo by tumor-host cell fusion. In the tumor system of Robert Kerbel and coworkers, highly metastatic variants were repeatedly developed by fusion of a non metastatic tumor cell with a cell from the bone marrow.

We have only known for a short time that individual cell groups of a given tumor are also different with regard to their capacity to form metastases. Only certain (especially malignant) subgroups of cells appear to be able to form metastases after transplantation into a suitable animal. The genetic processes, which lead to the generation of such metastatic tumor cells or tumor cell variants, are still largely unknown. An important factor in the development of various properties and abilities of tumors appears to be the genetic instability of neoplastic cells.

For example, antibodies against histone proteins allow these proteins to be demonstrated on transcriptionally active chromatin regions, although these regions are normally not folded into nucleosomal particles. e. in the direct vicinity of the RNA polymerase. This method now opens up the possibility of investigating the biochemical composition of transcriptionally active genes at a high level of resolution by use of a variety of antibodies. For example, in this way we were able to demonstrate on nascent lateral fibrils the existence of certain ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs), which play an important role in the splicing of precursor mRNA molecules.

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