Monocional proliferative lesions may be identified by X chromosome inactivation skewing relative to normal polyclonal tissues. We have quantitatively analyzed X-inactivation patterns throughout polyclonal uterine tissues to develop interpretive criteria for recognition of monoclonal neoplasms. Six fresh tissue samples (two samples each of cervix, endometrium, and myometrium) were collected from hysterectomy specimens, and the percentage of androgen receptor (HUMARA) marker allele present on inactive X chromosomes was calculated from a PCR assay. Exact balancing yields 50% of the marker on the inactive X, whereas complete skewing shows either 0 or 100%. X inactivation was similar throughout the tissues of each uterus but was significantly different among the 11 women studied. Comparison of differences in X inactivation between pairs of polyclonal tissue samples within each uterus (Xi spread) permitted delineation of cumulative experimental and biological variation of this parameter. Polyclonal-polyclonal Xi spread averaged 10.7 and was independent of the tissue type, sampling site, or the individual studied. Severe baseline skewing of reference polyclonal tissues or contamination of monoclonal tissue by polyclonal cells may reduce the polyclonal-monoclonal Xi spread. The extent of X-inactivation skewing necessary to infer a monoclonal process should exceed the 20 or 27 point spread seen, respectively, between 85 and 95% of polyclonal samples.

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This work was supported by American Cancer Society Research Grant EDT-86 (G. L. M.).

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