Counting alleles reveals a connection between chromosome 18q loss and vascular invasion

Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Jan;19(1):78-81. doi: 10.1038/83572.


The analysis of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) is perhaps the most widely used technique in cancer genetics. In primary tumors, however, the analysis of LOH is fraught with technical problems that have limited its reproducibility and interpretation. In particular, tumors are mixtures of neoplastic and nonneoplastic cells, and the DNA from the nonneoplastic cells can mask LOH. We here describe a new experimental approach, involving two components, to overcome these problems. First, a form of digital PCR was employed to directly count, one by one, the number of each of the two alleles in tumor samples. Second, Bayesian-type likelihood methods were used to measure the strength of the evidence for the allele distribution being different from normal. This approach imparts a rigorous statistical basis to LOH analyses, and should be able to provide more reliable information than heretofore possible in LOH studies of diverse tumor types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Loss of Heterozygosity*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*


  • DNA, Neoplasm