Literally meaning: “cancer gene”
Origin: Anc Greek
πρώτος/protos(=first) > πρo/pro-(prefix denoting “in front of”, “towards”, "before")
όγκος/ogos(=volume) > ογκόω /ogoo(=raise, establish)
γενεά/ genea(=generation) > γεννώ/geno (=birth to) >
In 1969, Robert Huebner and George Todaro proposed the “oncogene” hypothesis proposing that special parts of the genetic material of certain RNA viruses could be transmitted genetically. They postulated that some of these endogenous viruses contained transforming genes or 'oncogenes,' and that activation of these endogenous transforming viruses could cause cancer (Huebner and Todaro, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 64, 1087–1094. 1969). The term “proto-oncogene” was coined to identify the cellular precursor of a such retroviral transforming gene; the term was chosen to distinguish these genes from the “oncogenes”. c-src (derived from “cellular sarcoma”) was the first of several proto-oncogenes to be discovered in the vertebrate genome. By 1984, over 20 oncogenes had been discovered .
A proto-oncogene is a non-mutated form of normal cellular gene that control cell growth and it has the potential to become oncogene causing cancer usually after its overexpression.