Inactivation of the PTCH tumor suppressor gene occurs in a subset of sporadic medulloblastomas, suggesting that alterations in the PTCH pathway may be important in the development of this tumor. In order to address the frequency of genetic alterations affecting genes in this pathway, we used a combination of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analysis, single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis, and direct sequencing of DNA samples from sporadic primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs). To identify alterations in the PTCH gene, we performed LOH analysis on 37 tumor DNA samples. Of those with matched constitutional DNA samples, one demonstrated LOH. Of those without matched constitutional DNA, six were homozygous with all markers. All exons of the PTCH gene were sequenced in these seven tumors, and three mutations were found. To identify alterations in the SHH and SMO genes, we analyzed all exons of both genes in 24 tumors with SSCP and sequenced any exons that showed aberrant band patterns. No mutations were found in either SHH or SMO in any tumor. We also identified the following genes as candidate tumor suppressors based on their roles in controlling hh/ptc signaling in Drosophila: EN-1 and EN-2, deletion of which results in a lack of cerebellar development in mice; SMAD family members 1-7, and protein kinase A subunits RIalpha, RIbeta, RIIbeta, Calpha, and Cbeta. Each of these genes was investigated in a panel of 24 matched constitutional and tumor DNA samples. Our search revealed no mutations in any of these genes. Thus, PTCH is the only gene in this complex pathway that is mutated with notable frequency in PNET. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 27:44-51, 2000.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.