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Immunogenetics. 2011 Feb;63(2):65-71. doi: 10.1007/s00251-010-0494-4. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Frequent loss of heterozygosity in the β2-microglobulin region of chromosome 15 in primary human tumors.

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Department of Clinical Analysis, Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves, Granada, Spain.


Downregulation or total loss of HLA class I expression on tumor cells is known as a mechanism of cancer immune escape. Alterations of the HLA phenotype are frequently due to mutations affecting genes encoding the HLA class I heavy chains located on chromosome 6p21 or the β2-microglobulin (β2m) gene encoding the light chain of the HLA complex located on chromosome 15q21. Frequently irreversible total loss of HLA class I molecules is due to the coincidence of two molecular events, the mutation of one β2m gene and the loss of the second copy. The latter is detectable as loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of microsatellite markers in the β2m region on chromosome 15q21 (LOH-15q21). Thus, LOH-15q21 might be an important event in the processes of HLA class I downregulation and total loss. Here we studied the frequency of LOH-15q21 in tumor tissues of different entities. By determining the status of heterozygosity of two microsatellite markers we detected LOH-15q21 in 44% of bladder carcinomas (n = 69), in 35% of colon carcinomas (n = 95), in 16% of melanomas (n = 70) but only in 7% of renal cancers (n = 45). Moreover, we observed a frequent coincidence of LOH-15q21 and LOH-6p21 in colorectal carcinoma, bladder carcinoma and melanoma, but not for renal carcinoma. We believe that the high incidence of LOH-15q21 in some malignancies and especially the coincidence of LOH-15q21 and LOH-6p21 might have a strong impact on tumor immunogenicity and on the efficiency of cancer immunotherapy.

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