Spontaneous Tumor Regression in Tasmanian Devils Associated with RASL11A Activation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Spontaneous tumor regression has been documented in a small proportion of human cancer patients, but the specific mechanisms underlying tumor regression without treatment are not well understood. Tasmanian devils are threatened with extinction from a transmissible cancer due to universal susceptibility and a near 100% case fatality rate. In over 10,000 cases, <20 instances of natural tumor regression have been detected. Previous work in this system has focused on Tasmanian devil genetic variation associated with the regression phenotype. Here, we used comparative and functional genomics to identify tumor genetic variation associated with tumor regression. We show that a single point mutation in the 5' untranslated region of the putative tumor suppressor RASL11A significantly contributes to tumor regression. RASL11A was expressed in regressed tumors but silenced in wild-type, nonregressed tumors, consistent with RASL11A downregulation in human cancers. Induced RASL11A expression significantly reduced tumor cell proliferation in vitro The RAS pathway is frequently altered in human cancers, and RASL11A activation may provide a therapeutic treatment option for Tasmanian devils as well as a general mechanism for tumor inhibition.

published proceedings

  • Genetics

altmetric score

  • 147.48

author list (cited authors)

  • Margres, M. J., Ruiz-Aravena, M., Hamede, R., Chawla, K., Patton, A. H., Lawrance, M. F., ... Storfer, A.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Margres, Mark J||Ruiz-Aravena, Manuel||Hamede, Rodrigo||Chawla, Kusum||Patton, Austin H||Lawrance, Matthew F||Fraik, Alexandra K||Stahlke, Amanda R||Davis, Brian W||Ostrander, Elaine A||Jones, Menna E||McCallum, Hamish||Paddison, Patrick J||Hohenlohe, Paul A||Hockenbery, David||Storfer, Andrew

publication date

  • August 2020