Peter H. Duesberg

University of California, Berkeley

Primary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1986)

Research Interests

Cancer cells differ from normal in specific genotypes and phenotypes. The most common and massive cancer-specific genotype is aneuploidy, an abnormal number of chromosomes. The cancer-specific phenotypes include 1) dedifferentiation, 2) ability to metastasize, 3) constitutive genetic instability, 4) neoantigens, 5) metabolism, and 6) morphology. These cancer-specific properties are currently all interpreted as consequences of gene mutations. However, mutated genes do not typically generate new phenotypes, nor do mutated genes from cancer cells generate aneuploidy or transform diploid human or animal cells into cancer cells.

In view of this we re-investigated the 100 year old hypothesis, that aneuploidy causes cancer. Confirming the aneuploidy hypothesis we have found, that each of 44 chemically transformed Chinese hamster cell colonies was aneuploid and all those tested were tumorigenic (Li et al., 1997). We propose that aneuploidy alters the cell, like increasing or decreasing the number of instruments, or even introducing non-specific instruments, would alter the sound of an orchestra. Mutation could only alter the quality of an instrument. The aneuploidy hypothesis also offers a rational explanation for non-genotoxic carcinogens, such as polycyclic hydrocarbons. By binding to mitotic proteins such carcinogens cause cancer via aneuploidy. 

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software