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Cancer Res. 1989 Aug 1;49(15):4114-9.

Low incidence of loss of chromosome 10 in sporadic and hereditary human medullary thyroid carcinoma.

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  • 1Oncology Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21231.


Genetic linkage has been recently documented between a centromeric region of chromosome 10 and familial multiple endocrine neoplasia type II (MEN II). This syndrome consists of initial thyroid C-cell and adrenal chromaffin cell hyperplasia which result in multifocal medullary thyroid carcinomas and bilateral adrenal pheochromocytomas. Other hereditary cancers, such as retinoblastoma, appear to result from a series of genetic events involving, first the inheritance of a germ line abnormality, and subsequent loss of chromosome loci opposite this initial defect. In these cancers, this loss of the normal alleles in both familial and sporadic cases, is frequently manifest as a reduction to homozygosity for polymorphic DNA markers near the involved locus. It might then be expected that chromosome 10 regions would be lost with high frequency in tumor DNA from patients with MEN II and sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). We now demonstrate that only two of 16 MTC tumors studied by analysis of restriction fragment length polymorphisms for multiple regions of the short and long arms of chromosome 10 showed loci reduced to homozygosity. One of these tumors was from a patient with MEN II and the other from a patient with nonfamilial MTC. Importantly, no such chromosome 10 changes were noted in pheochromocytomas from the patient with MEN II or his sister. These findings strongly suggest that the sequence of genetic events for familial MTC is either different from that for retinoblastoma or that loss of normal alleles opposite the germ line genetic defect occurs by mechanisms other than gross loss of chromosomal material in MTC. A model is proposed suggesting that the mechanism involving loss of alleles opposite one another is operative in hereditary tumors, such as retinoblastoma, which do not arise within a setting of initial polyclonal cellular hyperplasia. In contrast, in tumors such as familial MTC and polyposis coli which arise as individual clones of neoplastic cells from a setting of preexistent polyclonal hyperplasia, the first genetic event may underlie hyperplasia, and additional events, frequently at other chromosomal loci, may cause individual clonal neoplasms.

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