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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):753-9.

Frequent downregulation and loss of WWOX gene expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-4262, USA.


The WWOX (WW-domain containing oxidoreductase) is a candidate tumour suppressor gene spanning the same chromosome region, 16q23, as the second most common fragile site (FS), FRA16D. Deletions detected by comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) and loss of heterozygosity at microsatellite markers on chromosome 16q are common in many human cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The development of human HCC is closely associated with exposure to oncogenic viruses and chemical carcinogens, agents known to frequently target common FS. We examined the status of WWOX genomic DNA, RNA and protein in 18 cell lines derived from human HCC and found recurrent alterations of the gene. Loss of DNA copy-number confined to band 16q23 was detected by CGH in several cell lines. Although homozygous deletions of the WWOX gene were not detected, WWOX mRNA expression was absent or lower in 60% of cell lines. The occurrence of aberrant WWOX reverse transcription-PCR products with deletion of exons 6-8 correlated significantly with altered WWOX expression. All of the cell lines showing mRNA downregulation had a decreased or undetectable level of WWOX protein as demonstrated by Western blotting with antibody to WWOX. Furthermore, 13 out of the 18 cell lines expressed decreased levels or no WWOX protein when compared with normal liver. These results show that WWOX gene is frequently altered in HCC and raise the possibility that this gene is implicated in hepatocarcinogenesis.

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