Detection of fusion genes for diagnostic purposes and as a guide to treatment is well-established in hematological malignancies, and the prevalence of fusion genes in epithelial cancers is also increasingly appreciated. To study whether established fusion genes are present within additional cancer types, we have used an updated version of our fusion gene microarray in a systematic survey of reported fusion genes in multiple cancer types. We assembled a comprehensive database of published fusion genes, including those reported only in individual studies and samples, and fusion genes resulting from deep sequencing of cancer genomes and transcriptomes. From the total set of 548 fusion genes, we designed 599,839 oligonucleotides, targeting both chimeric transcript junctions as well as sequences internal to each of the fusion gene partners. We investigated the presence of fusion genes in a series of 67 cell lines representing 15 different cancer types. Data from ten leukemia cell lines with known fusion gene status were used to develop an automated scoring algorithm, and in five cell lines the correct fusion gene was the top scoring hit, and one came second. Two additional fusion genes, BCAS4-BCAS3 in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line and CCDC6-RET in the TPC-1 thyroid cancer cell line were validated as true positive fusion transcripts. However, these fusion genes were not new to these cancer types, and none of 548 fusion genes were identified from a novel cancer type. We therefore find it unlikely that the assayed fusion genes are commonly present across multiple cancer types.
2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.