PerspectiveCARCINOGENESIS

Transient Expression of a Mutator Phenotype in Cancer Cells

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Science  05 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5331, pp. 1449-1450
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5331.1449

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Summary

Adaptive mutation has been a controversial topic in bacterial genetics because it posits that cells can mutate "at will" when they find themselves in adverse conditions. Now in a report on p. 1523 of this issue, Richards et al. describe a similar phenomenon in cancer cells in which the cells acquire a mutator phenotype when they are not dividing. In his Perspective Loeb describes how these states of increased mutation may underlie the enormous numbers of translocations, deletions, and insertions in the DNA of cancer cells and howthey may actually contribute to the generation of tumors.