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Int J Cancer. 2004 Sep 10;111(4):627-32.

Allelic loss but absence of mutations in the polyspecific transporter gene BWR1A on 11p15.5 in hepatoblastoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Chromosomal region 11p15.5 shows frequent maternal allelic loss in embryonal tumors, including rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), Wilms' tumor (WT) and hepatoblastoma (HB), consistent with the presence of at least one tumor suppressor gene in this region, which should be paternally imprinted, i.e., expressed from the maternal allele only. The BWR1A gene encodes a polyspecific transmembrane transporter and is located on 11p15.5. It is highly expressed in liver, paternally imprinted and was found to be mutated in an RMS cell line, making it a plausible tumor suppressor gene for HB. We therefore screened 62 HBs, 3 HB cell lines and 1 pediatric hepatocellular carcinoma for BWR1A mutations using single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis. Allelic loss on 11p15.5 was assessed by PCR-based microsatellite analysis in 56 of the cases for which constitutional DNA was available. BWR1A mRNA expression was determined in 14 HBs by differential RT-PCR of matched cDNA samples from tumor and normal liver. Western blot analysis was performed on 4 tumors and matching normal liver tissue. Except for sequence polymorphisms (in exons 2, 3 and 10 as well as in introns 6 and 7), no mutations were found. Thirteen HBs (23%) had allelic loss on 11p15.5; this included BWR1A in 12 but it was telomeric to BWR1A in 1. Expression of BWR1A mRNA was reduced in 11 out of 14 cases by 19-92%, independent from allelic loss of 11p15.5. By Western blot analysis, all 4 tumors and matching liver samples displayed a 48-51 kd band corresponding to BWR1A. These results make it unlikely that BWR1A is the target of the allelic deletions in HB. However, similar to the putative 11p15.5 tumor suppressor H19, BWR1A appears to be reduced in expression. Reduced expression in the absence of mutations may contribute to HB development; however, to understand the significance of this finding will require further studies on the function of BWR1A, specifically its role in liver development.

Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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