We have found 16 of 28 small cell lung cancers, 17 of 31 non-small cell lung cancers, 2 of 3 carcinoids, and 12 of 14 mesothellomas that had chromosome 22 cytogenetic abnormalities. To determine whether the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) gene located on chromosome 22 participates in the oncogenesis of these malignancies, we studied DNAs from lung cancer cell lines and mesotheliomas using Southern blot analysis and the single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) technique for mutations covering 8 of the 16 known NF2 exons. We detected 7 mutations in 17 mesotheliomas (41%) within the coding region of NF2 but none in 75 lung cancer cell lines (38 small cell lung cancers, 34 non-small cell lung cancers, and 3 carcinoids). These mutations were found to be somatic when normal tissue was available for testing. Four mesothelioma cell lines had relatively large deletions (∼10–50 kilobases) in the NF2 gene detectable by Southern blot analysis. Two mesothelioma cell lines had nonsense mutations at codons 57 and 341, respectively. Another mesothelioma obtained as a specimen directly from a patient, had a 10-base pair microdeletion from nucleotide 1004 to nucleotide 1013 causing a frameshift mutation. These results suggest that the NF2 gene participates in the oncogenesis in a subset of mesotheliomas but not in lung cancers.

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This work was supported by the Julie Gould Foundation (S. B.), the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation, and NCI Grant P20 CA58220-01.

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