Retroviral insertional mutagenesis: past, present and future

Oncogene. 2005 Nov 21;24(52):7656-72. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209043.


Retroviral insertion mutagenesis screens in mice are powerful tools for efficient identification of oncogenic mutations in an in vivo setting. Many oncogenes identified in these screens have also been shown to play a causal role in the development of human cancers. Sequencing and annotation of the mouse genome, along with recent improvements in insertion site cloning has greatly facilitated identification of oncogenic events in retrovirus-induced tumours. In this review, we discuss the features of retroviral insertion mutagenesis screens, covering the mechanisms by which retroviral insertions mutate cellular genes, the practical aspects of insertion site cloning, the identification and analysis of common insertion sites, and finally we address the potential for use of somatic insertional mutagens in the study of nonhaematopoietic and nonmammary tumour types.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogenes
  • Retroviridae / genetics*


  • DNA Transposable Elements