The common fragile sites are regions of profound genomic instability found in all individuals. The full size of each region of instability ranges from under one megabase (Mb) to greater than 10 Mbs. At least half of the CFS regions have been found to span extremely large genes that spanned from 600 kb to greater than 2.0 Mbs. The large CFS genes are also very interesting from a cancer perspective as several of them, including FHIT and WWOX, have already demonstrated the capacity to function as tumor suppressor genes, both in vitro and in vivo. We estimate that there may be 40-50 large genes localized in CFS regions. The expression of a number of the large CFS genes has been previously shown to be lost in many different cancers and this is frequently associated with a worse clinical outcome for patients. To determine if there was selection for the inactivation of different large CFS genes in different cancers, we examined the expression of 13 of the 20 known large CFS genes: FHIT, WWOX, PARK2, GRID2, NBEA, DLG2, RORA isoforms 1 and 4, DAB1, CNTNAP2, DMD, IL1RAPL1, IMMP2L and LARGE in breast, ovarian, endometrial and brain cancers using real-time RT-PCR analysis. Each cancer had a distinct profile of different large CFS genes that were inactivated. Interestingly, in breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers there were some cancers that had inactivation of expression of none or only one of the tested genes, while in other specimens there was inactivation of multiple tested genes. Brain cancers had inactivation of many of the tested genes, a number of which function in normal neurological development. We find that there is no relationship between the frequency that any specific CFS is expressed and the frequency that the gene from that region is inactivated in different cancers. Instead, it appears that different cancers select for the inactivation of different large CFS genes.
Copyright (c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.