Chromosomal alterations in small cell lung cancer revealed by multicolour fluorescence in situ hybridization

Int J Cancer. 2002 Nov 20;102(3):230-6. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10704.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a major cause of cancer related morbidity and mortality. Karyotypic studies have revealed numerous chromosomal aberrations in most SCLC however, classical G-banding analysis is unable to fully characterise complex marker chromosomes. Recent developments in molecular cytogenetics now allow accurate identification of the chromosomal components of complicated rearrangements. We have applied the technique of multicolour fluorescence in situ hybridization (M-FISH) in combination with comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) to the analysis of 5 SCLC cell lines and 1 primary tumour specimen to characterise the chromosomal abnormalities. CGH analysis identified many similarities between specimens, with frequent DNA copy number decreases on chromosomes 3p, 5q, 10, 16q, 17p and frequent gains on 3q, 1p, 1q and 14q. In contrast, M-FISH analysis revealed a large number of structural abnormalities, with each specimen demonstrating an individual pattern of chromosomal translocations. Forty different translocations were identified with the vast majority (39) being unbalanced. Chromosome 5 was the most frequently rearranged chromosome (9 translocations) followed by chromosomes 2, 10 and 16 (6 translocations each). Further investigation of these frequently involved chromosomes is warranted to establish whether consistent break points are involved in these translocations, causing dysregulation of specific genes that are crucial for tumour progression and secondly to identify the affected genes.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • DNA / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotyping
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Metaphase
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • DNA