Review

Oncogene (2009) 27, S19–S30; doi:10.1038/onc.2009.350

Clonally transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils

E P Murchison1

1Cancer Genome Project, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence: Dr EP Murchison, Cancer Genome Project, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK. E-mail: elizabeth.murchison@sanger.ac.uk

Top

Abstract

Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) and canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT) are the only known naturally occurring clonally transmissible cancers. These cancers are transmitted by the physical transfer of viable tumor cells that can be transplanted across histocompatibility barriers into unrelated hosts. Despite their common etiology, DFTD and CTVT have evolved independently and have unique life histories and host adaptations. DFTD is a recently emerged aggressive facial tumor that is threatening the Tasmanian devil with extinction. CTVT is a sexually transmitted tumor of dogs that has a worldwide distribution and that probably arose thousands of years ago. By contrasting the biology, molecular genetics and immunology of these two unusual cancers, I highlight the common and unique features of clonally transmissible cancers, and discuss the implications of clonally transmissible cancers for host-pathogen evolution.

Keywords:

transmissible cancer, allograft, dog, Tasmanian devil, CTVT, DFTD

Top

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated

REVIEWS

Wildlife cancer: a conservation perspective

Nature Reviews Cancer Perspective (01 Jul 2009)

NEWS AND VIEWS

Cancer biology Infectious tumour cells

Nature News and Views (07 Sep 2006)

RESEARCH

Allograft theory Transmission of devil facial-tumour disease

Nature Brief Communication (02 Feb 2006)