Retroviruses are known to carry specific genes that are likely to be responsible for induction of the malignant phenotype in the cells they infect. These genes, termed viral oncogenes (v-onc), have subsequently been shown to be derived from highly conserved, normal cellular genes commonly referred to as proto-oncogenes (c-onc). Proto-oncogenes are thought to be intimately involved in the processes of cell proliferation and differentiation. Therefore, any c-onc amplification, mutation, structural alteration, or change in transcriptional regulation might lead to, or be associated with, induction of a malignant phenotype. Targeted disruption of these genes may therefore be of therapeutic value. We discuss the role of antisense DNA in carrying out such therapy.
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