Rapid detection of MYCN gene amplification and telomerase expression in neuroblastoma

Eiso Hiyama, Keiko Hiyama, Takashi Yokoyama, Ikuko Fukuba, Hiroaki Yamaoka, Jerry W. Shay, Yuichiro Matsuura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Amplification of the MYCN gene and high telomerase activity predict a poor prognosis for the patients with neuroblastoma. We used PCR techniques for rapid detection of MYCN gene amplification and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression in neuroblastoma specimens. The detection of MYCN gene amplification is based on differential PCR in which three primer pairs were used to coamplify a 178-bp fragment of target MYCN gene with two reference gene fragments, a 237-bp of p53 exon 7 and a 120-bp of β-globin exon 3, in a single tube of 40 surgically resected tumor samples. MYCN amplification was identified by this differential PCR in all 10 samples carrying more than 10 copies (already known to have MYCN gene amplification by Southern blot analysis). There were no false-negative or false-positive cases, and the relative intensity of MYCN bands in the differential PCR correlated significantly with the copy number determined by Southern blot analysis (γ = 0.99, P < 0.0001). This protocol was also applicable in the biopsy or aspirated samples, as well as the paraffin-embedded tissues, and in detecting intratumoral heterogeneity. Using RT-PCR procedures, hTERT mRNA expression was detectable in all 13 tumors with high telomerase activity. These nonradioisotopic PCR-based protocols for detecting MYCN gene amplification and hTERT mRNA expression are rapid and reliable and are likely to be useful to determine the biological behavior of neuroblastoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-609
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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