Glioblastomas, the most malignant human brain tumors, are characterized by marked aneuploidy, suggesting chromosomal instability which may be caused by a defective mitotic spindle checkpoint. We screened 22 glioblastomas for mutations in the mitotic spindle check-point genes hBUB1, hBUBR1 and hBUB3. DNA sequencing revealed a silent mutation at codon 144 of hBUB1 (CAG-->CAA, Gln-->Gln) in one glioblastoma, a silent mutation at codon 952 of hBUBR1 (GAC-->GAT, Asp-->Asp) in another glioblastoma, and a silent mutation at codon 388 of the hBUBR1 gene (GCG-->GCA, Ala-->Ala) in 8 glioblastomas. We also observed a known polymorphism at hBUBR1 codon 349 (CAA/CGA, Gln/Arg), with an allelic frequency of 0.75 for Gln and 0.25 for Arg, which is similar to that among healthy Caucasian individuals (0.73 vs 0.27). The coding sequence of the hBUB3 gene did not contain any mutation, but in 4 glioblastomas (18%), a C-->T point mutation was detected at position -6 (6 nucleotides upstream of the ATG initiator codon). Analysis of blood DNA of these patients showed identical sequence alterations, indicating that this is a polymorphism. Again, the frequency in glioblastomas was similar to that in healthy Caucasians (15%). We further screened hBUB1 in 18 cases of giant cell glioblastoma, a variant characterized by a predominance of bizarre, multinucleated giant cells. There were no changes, except for a silent mutation at codon 144 in two cases. These results suggest that mutations in these mitotic spindle checkpoint genes do not play a significant role in the causation of chromosomal instability in glioblastomas.