Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Transgenic Mouse Model for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Technology #1828


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most prevalent form of skin cancer. Annually, approximately 75% of the 1,000,000 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States are basal cell carcinomas. A major hurdle in the development of new treatments has been the lack of an adequate BCC mouse model that will help scientists understand the genetics and pathobiology of this common disease, and act as a platform to test new treatment methods and outcomes.


Researchers at the University of Michigan and Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada have developed developed a transgenic mouse model for spontaneous basal cell carcinoma (K5-Gli2). Transgenic mice were produced that overexpress the transcription factor Gli2. Tumors generated are of a wide variety, including smooth and shiny, ulcerated, and pigmented growths that are grossly indistinguishable from human BCC. Histological analysis of tumors reveal large monomorphous cells with scant cytoplasm scattered throughout the dermis, dilated blood vessels in the stroma between the tumor and overlying epidermis, and the presence of brown melanin in pigmented tumors, which are all consistent with human forms of BCC.

Applications and Advantages


  • Characterization of BCC
  • System for the development and testing of potential treatments for BCC


  • Tumors that are grossly indistinguishable from human BCCs
  • Tumors express the same protein markers as human BCCs and exhibit strikingly elevated levels of Ptch1 and Gli1, a hallmark of human BCCs but not squamous tumors