DNA fingerprinting with the minisatellite probes 33.6 and 33.15 was used to screen for genetic abnormalities in primary tumors of a variety of organs and, where appropriate, their metastases, obtained from 32 patients. The constitutional DNA of each host, obtained from blood leukocytes or normal tissue, was used to produce control, individual-specific fingerprints for comparison with those of their tumor.

Fingerprints obtained with probe 33.6 showed differences between tumor and host fingerprints in 69% of patients and those produced with 33.15 in 55%. The most common change was loss or reduction in the intensity of one or more bands, but the appearance of new bands, not present in the fingerprint of the constitutional DNA, was also noted in several tumor DNA samples. The findings are interpreted as indicating loss or rearrangement of expressed sequences in the chromosomal regions adjacent to the hypervariable tandem repeat intron arrays which are detected by these probes.

In three patients further differences were identified between primary tumors and their metastatic deposits. With this technique it is possible to perform simultaneous multilocus screening of the genome and the present results show that it has potential for identification of as yet unknown abnormalities in DNA constitution, which may be of pathogenetic significance.


Supported by the Cancer Research Campaign of Great Britain and in part by the Anthony Placito Medical Fund.

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