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The origin, dynamics, and molecular evolution of transmissible cancers

Authors Jones E, Cheng Y, Belov K

Received 31 March 2015

Accepted for publication 4 June 2015

Published 21 September 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 317—326


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr John Martignetti

Elizabeth A Jones, Yuanyuan Cheng, Katherine Belov

Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia

Abstract: Three transmissible cancers are known to have emerged naturally in the wild: canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT); Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease (DFTD); and a recently discovered leukemia-like cancer in soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria). These cancers have all acquired the ability to pass between individuals. DFTD emerged approximately 20 years ago and has decimated the Tasmanian devil population. CTVT arose over 10,000 years ago in an ancient breed of dog. The clam cancer is believed to have evolved at least 40 years ago. In this manuscript, we review CTVT and DFTD, the two transmissible mammalian cancers, and provide an overview of the leukemia-like cancer of clams. We showcase how genetics and genomics have enhanced our understanding of the unique biology, origins, and evolutionary histories of these rare cancers.

Keywords: transmissible cancer, devil facial tumor disease, DFTD, canine transmissible venereal tumor, origin, evolution

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