Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Oncogene Hypothesis

Proposal that all species prone to cancer had viral genomes that became integrated into their DNA; such genes have been transmitted with the rest of the genome ever since, and that carcinogens transform these proto-oncogenes into cancer-causing agents, or oncogenes. Suggested in 1969 by American biochemists Robert Joseph Huebner (1923-) and George Joseph Todaro (1937-); aka the virogene-oncogene hypothesis.

See cancer (theories of), the provirus hypothesis, and the protovirus hypothesis. It is now suspected that the process occurs in the reverse direction: that cellular oncogenes are the progenitors of the viral genomes.

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