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Int J Cancer. 2000 Feb 15;85(4):492-7.

Clonal heterogeneity in sporadic melanomas as revealed by loss-of-heterozygosity analysis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Kanazawa University School of Medicine, Kanazawa, Japan.


The major obstacle preventing effective treatment of melanoma is the biological heterogeneity of tumor cells. This study was performed to determine clonal genetic heterogeneity within primary melanoma and the evolution of these heterogeneous sub-clones during disease progression. DNA samples were obtained from 44 morphologically distinct areas identified within 10 primary tumors and from 15 metastases in the same patients. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analyses were performed using 17 microsatellite markers that mapped to chromosomes 6q, 9p, 10q and 18q, the most frequently deleted in melanoma. Of 10 primary tumors, 8 were revealed to have intratumoral genetic heterogeneity in terms of LOH of the 4 chromosome arms examined, 7 containing at least 2 different sub-clones harboring LOH of different chromosome areas, while the remaining one tumor showed prominent intratumoral genetic heterogeneity consisting of at least 6 genetically distinct sub-clones. LOH of 6q was detected only in a sub-set of multiple microdissected samples in most of the primary tumors, but was most frequently detected in metastases, suggesting that loss of this chromosome arm occurred late and played an important part in metastatic progression. Comparison of LOH between sub-clones within primary tumors and within metastases showed the divergence of metastatic clones from dominant populations within the primary tumor in 5 patients, whereas in the remaining three patients parent sub-clones were not identified, or constituted only a minor sub-population within the primary tumors. These results, showing considerable genetic heterogeneity in sporadic melanoma, have profound implications for the choice of future therapeutic strategies.

Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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