A Conditional Transposon-Based Insertional Mutagenesis Screen for Genes Associated With Mouse Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Nat Biotechnol. 2009 Mar;27(3):264-74. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1526. Epub 2009 Feb 22.


We describe a system that permits conditional mobilization of a Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposase allele by Cre recombinase to induce cancer specifically in a tissue of interest. To demonstrate its potential for developing tissue-specific models of cancer in mice, we limit SB transposition to the liver by placing Cre expression under the control of an albumin enhancer/promoter sequence and screen for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-associated genes. From 8,060 nonredundant insertions cloned from 68 tumor nodules and comparative analysis with data from human HCC samples, we identify 19 loci strongly implicated in causing HCC. These encode genes, such as EGFR and MET, previously associated with HCC and others, such as UBE2H, that are potential new targets for treating this neoplasm. Our system, which could be modified to drive transposon-based insertional mutagenesis wherever tissue-specific Cre expression is possible, promises to enhance understanding of cancer genomes and identify new targets for therapeutic development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / genetics
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, erbB-1 / genetics*
  • Genes, erbB-1 / physiology
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Humans
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / methods*
  • Transposases / genetics
  • Transposases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / physiology


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases
  • Transposases