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Induction of Tumors in Mice by Genomic Hypomethylation

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Science  18 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5618, pp. 489-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.1083558

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Abstract

Genome-wide DNA hypomethylation occurs in many human cancers, but whether this epigenetic change is a cause or consequence of tumorigenesis has been unclear. To explore this phenomenon, we generated mice carrying a hypomorphic DNA methyltransferase 1 (Dnmt1) allele, which reduces Dnmt1 expression to 10% of wild-type levels and results in substantial genome-wide hypomethylation in all tissues. The mutant mice were runted at birth, and at 4 to 8 months of age they developed aggressive T cell lymphomas that displayed a high frequency of chromosome 15 trisomy. These results indicate that DNA hypomethylation plays a causal role in tumor formation, possibly by promoting chromosomal instability.

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