Indexed on: 14 Sep '04Published on: 14 Sep '04Published in: Tissue antigens
In cancer research, loss of heterozygosity (LOH), defined by microsatellite markers, is frequently used in the identification of gene loss. Especially, genomic alterations in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes and the beta2-microglobulin (beta2m) gene on chromosome 15 are of interest regarding their function in the immune system. Because LOH analysis detects any allelic imbalance and not just allelic loss, we evaluated the LOH analysis in 11 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) lesions using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The 11 tumors were selected out of 53 HNSCC lesions based upon beta2m LOH analysis and beta2m expression. Centromere 1 and 15 FISH were developed to determine the chromosome 15 copy number. Sequence-based mutation analysis of beta2m was conducted on tumors without beta2m expression; no mutations in the coding sequences were found. For five HNSCC lesions with LOH and beta2m expression, centromere 15 FISH indicated gain rather than loss. In the majority of the 11 HNSCC lesions, FISH showed centromere 1 and 15 heterogeneity throughout the tumor. Moreover, FISH indicated a more complex chromosome 1 and 15 distribution than could be concluded from microsatellite LOH analysis. Our results show that microsatellite LOH analysis does not represent the beta2m gene copy number and support the results obtained from comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) studies. Conclusions on genomic alterations in tumors cannot be based on LOH data only but depend on the results of immunohistochemical staining, FISH, and CGH.