Specific chromosomal deletions sometimes associated with tumours such as retinoblastoma (chromosome 13q14)1 and Wilm's tumour (chromosome 11p13)2 have led to the hypothesis that recessive genes may be involved in tumorigenesis3. This hypothesis is supported by demonstration of allele loss specific for these regions using polymorphic DNA markers4-9 and by the isolation of a complementary DNA clone for the retinoblastoma gene10. A cytogenetic deletion in chromosome 3 (p14-p23) was reported in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) by Whang-Peng et al 11,12. At least one homologue of chromosome 3 was affected in the majority of SCLC tumours; however, the multiple chromosomal changes seen presented the possibility that chromosome 3 was rearranged, not deleted. We used polymorphic DNA probes for chromosome 3p and compared tumour and constitutional genotypes of nine SCLC patients. Our data show loss of alleles of chromosome 3p markers in tumour DNA of all nine patients supporting the hypothesis that this region contributes to tumorigenesis in SCLC.
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