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Pathol Res Pract. 2003;199(6):391-7.

Genetic and epigenetic alterations of 9p21 gene products in benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck.

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Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Leipzig, Germany.


The multistep process of tumorigenesis has not been decoded to date, although numerous investigations into probable molecular changes have meanwhile been conducted. However, not only DNA changes or loss of alleles cause deregulation of gene function, but also epigenetic alterations (e.g. methylation) result in functional loss. The INK4a-ARF (CDKN2A) locus, located on chromosome 9p21, encodes two functionally distinct tumor suppressor genes, p14ARF and p16INK4a, which play active roles in the p53 and Rb tumor suppressive pathways. We therefore examined not only p16 and p14 proteins, but also alterations of the INK4a-ARF locus, including methylation and loss of heterozygosity in benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck (squamous cell carcinomas and pleomorphic adenomas). In benign pleomorphic adenomas, methylation of p14ARF was found in 1 out of 42 (2%) cases, whereas alterations of p16INK4a occurred in 12/42 (29%) pleomorphic adenomas. In HNSCC, methylation of p16INK4a occurred in 16 out of 50 (32%) carcinomas. P14ARF was found to be methylated in 8 out of 50 cases (16%). Our results demonstrate that alterations of the INK4a-ARF locus are frequent and important events not only in the carcinogenesis of malignant, but also in benign tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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