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Mapping a cancer hotspot in the rat genome
Edward R. Winstead

Belgian researchers identified and screened a region of the rat genome that is likely to contain susceptibility gene candidates for mammary cancer. They reported their characterization of the region in a recent issue of Mammalian Genome.

Jean-François Laes and colleagues at Université Libre de Bruxelles developed the chromosome map of the chromosome 2 region by localizing 18 genes, 4 ESTs, or partial gene sequences, and several anonymous markers. The region, named Mcs1 (for mammary cancer susceptibility 1), has genes in common with regions on mouse chromosome 13 and human chromosome 5, according to the study.

Three cancer candidate genes (Ccnh1, Rasa, Rasgrf2) were mapped within Mcs1 and were expressed in the mammary gland. However, the researchers sequenced most of the coding regions of these genes and found no mutation that could be associated with mammary cancer susceptibility. "These genes might still be considered as potential candidates, since polymorphisms (outside the coding regions) that could affect the control of expression were not sought for in this work," they write.

Mcs1 was identified through the mating of two rat strains with very different susceptibilities to mammary cancer and subsequent genetic linkage analysis. The rat strain COP is resistant to spontaneous and carcinogen-induced mammary cancer, whereas the strain WF is susceptible.

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Laes, J.-F. et al. Analysis of candidate genes included in the mammary cancer susceptibility 1 (Mcs1) region. Mammalian Genome 12, 199-206 (2001).

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