Amplified genome area mapped; New gene is overexpressed in oral cancer, say Pittsburgh researchers

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 1 Investigators from the University of Pittsburgh have used a new technique to map a region of the genome chromosomal band 11q13 that is present in extra copies, or amplified, in a large percentage of oral cancers. They also have identified a new gene that is expressed at abnormally high levels in oral cancers when the segment is amplified. Their results are to be published the week of Aug. 5 online in the web version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/172285799b1).

"Gene amplification is a common and critically important genetic defect in cancer cells, and chromosomal band 11q13 appears to be one of the most frequently amplified chromosomal regions. Yet, until now, a comprehensive physical map of the band has not been published," said corresponding author Susanne M. Gollin, Ph.D., associate professor, department of human genetics, Graduate School of Public Health and director, Cytogenetics Facility, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

"Our work represents the first time the structure of the 11q13 amplicon has been mapped so finely, enabling us to identify a new gene in this segment that is both amplified and overexpressed in oral cancer cells."

Amplification of band 11q13 appears to be a relatively common event in the development of oral and head and neck cancers, and it is usually associated with a poor prognosis. In addition to oral and head and neck cancers, amplification of the 11q13 region has been reported in breast, lung, bladder and esophageal cancers.

In this study, investigators examined 30 oral squamous cell carcinoma cell lines developed from tumors removed from patients who had not been treated previously. A new technique called quantitative microsatellite analysis (QuMA) was used to map the 11q13 amplicon, which houses about 10 genes. Of the cell lines examined, 16 (63 percent) had ampl

Contact: Kathryn Duda
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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