For a better understanding of genetic alterations in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), we applied comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) in the analysis of 75 HNSCCs, comprised of 18 pharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (PSCCs), 23 laryngeal squamous cell carcinomas (LSCCs), and 34 oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs). The three subgroups of HNSCC showed significant differences in genetic alteration patterns. Overall, PSCC and LSCC had more copy number aberrations (CNAs) per tumor than did OSCC. Apparent differing patterns of high-level amplification were also observed. The smallest recurrent chromosomal regions of high-level amplification (> or = 15% of cases) were 7q22, 8q24.1, and 11q12-13 in PSCC and 3q26.1-29 in OSCC. According to single frequency and combined frequencies of CNAs, we concluded that the most important chromosomal events for progression of head and neck cancer were +3q, +5p, +8q, and -3p for all subgroups of HNSCC; additionally, +7q, +17q, -9p, and -13q for PSCC; +7p, +9q, +11q12-13, +14q, and +17q for LSCC; and +1p and +11q12-13 for OSCC. To identify further important genetic alterations and the relationships among the alterations, we constructed oncogenetic tree models for tumor progression of HNSCC from CGH data using branching and distance-based tree models. The tree models predicted that: (1) +3q21-29 was the most important early chromosomal event, and -3p, which occurred after +3q21-29, was also an important chromosomal event for all subsites of HNSCC; (2) +8q is the second most important early chromosomal event; (3) there may be at least three subgroups of HNSCC: one characterized by -3p, -9p, +7p, and -13q; another by +5p, +9qter, and +17p; and the other by +8q and +18p. These results suggest that different chromosomal aberrations may play a role in the initiation and/or progression of different subgroups of HNSCC.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.