A number of carcinomas show high frequency of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at chromosome 8p, suggesting that putative tumor suppressor genes are present in this region. While searching for homozygous deletions in a panel of pancreatic and biliary tumors, we discovered a homozygous deletion at the microsatellite AFMa224wh5 in chromosome region 8p12-p21. We applied a six-step algorithm comprising germline analysis, breakpoint sequencing, population screening, on-line gene mapping, allelic discrimination of tumor-associated LOH, and family history analysis. The results indicated that the deletion was likely due to a normal 102-bp deletion polymorphism present in nearly 10% of the study population, not likely to involve a recessive cancer-associated gene. Researchers need to be aware that germline insertion/deletion polymorphisms can affect the results of positional cloning efforts in human neoplasms. This problem would be accentuated in studies of cell lines where a paired sample of constitutional DNA is often unavailable.
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