OBJECTIVE: Despite the very recent discovery that about 25% of apparently sporadic forms of pheochromocytoma are actually due to germline mutations of RET, VHL, SDHB or SDHD genes, the genetic bases of the tumourigenesis of this type of cancer are still incompletely understood. Recent studies provided evidence that a new tumour suppressor gene, mapping on the short arm of chromosome 1, could be involved in early tumourigenesis of pheochromocytoma. DESIGN: We have performed a fine analysis of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of this region. In particular, we have analysed 31 highly polymorphic microsatellites distributed at 3.8 Mege base (Mb) mean intervals along the short arm of the chromosome 1 in paired samples of DNA extracted from peripheral blood lymphocytes and tumour tissues. PATIENTS: The study was carried out on 38 patients with pheochromocytoma that had been grouped, by careful clinical and molecular investigation, in the following classes: 21 sporadic, five multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2), two type 1 neurofibromatosis (NF1), five von Nippel-Lindau (VHL), one somatic VHL mutated and four nonsyndromic familial cases. RESULTS: In 12/21 sporadic cases (57.1%), in 4/5 MEN2 (80%), 2/4 non-syndromic familial cases (50%), and in 2/2 NF1 (100%), the entire short arm was deleted, while in 6/21 sporadic (28.6%) and 1/ 5 MEN2 (20%) cases a partial deletion was detected. On the other hand, none of the five cases due to VHL mutation (either germline or somatic) had LOH at chromosome 1. In total, complete or partial deletion of 1p was detected in 27/ 38 (71%) of the cases.The most frequently deleted marker was D1S2890, which maps at 1p32.1. This region, which spans from 50 to 62 Mb from telomere, was therefore further investigated with markers located at a mean interval of 1.3 Mb in the subset of cases that showed a partial deletion of 1p. This analysis showed that a small region between 55.1 and 59.0 Mb was most frequently missing, which could therefore contain a novel pheochromocytoma locus. CONCLUSIONS: The results presented here confirm that the short arm of chromosome 1 harbours one or more genes responsible for the development of pheochromocytoma and suggest that one of them could map in a 3.9-Mb fragment between 1p32.3 and 1p32.1.
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