These studies were set up to determine whether those oncogenes participating in the initiation of mammary carcinogenesis (for example, rat oncogenes) play a direct role in the outcome of events associated with the late stages of tumor development such as loss of hormone dependency. Mammary carcinomas induced by a single carcinogenic insult in pubescent rats was selected as an in vivo model system with direct relevance to human breast cancer. Acquisition of hormone-independent growth in these carcinogen-induced tumors was found to be independent of the activation of ras oncogenes during the early stages of carcinogenesis. In agreement with these observations, introduction of a human ras oncogene into human MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells did not abrogate their hormonal dependency for growth in vivo. These findings suggest that those events responsible for the critical stages of breast cancer development occur independently and in an uncoordinated manner.
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