To elucidate the genetic alterations that occur in salivary gland tumors, we screened every autosomal arm (and the X-chromosome) of 29 primary human salivary gland neoplasms (11 pleomorphic adenomas, 10 adenoid cystic carcinomas, 5 mucoepidermoid carcinomas, and 3 carcinoma ex-mixed tumors) for allelic loss using 86 microsatellite markers. A minimum of two microsatellite markers were used per chromosomal arm to achieve informativity of at least 60% (excluding X). The pleomorphic adenomas demonstrated few areas of allelic loss; the most prominent chromosomal arm involved was 12q, lost in more than 35% of informative cases. The most significant allelic losses in adenoid cystic carcinoma were 1p, 2p, 6q, 17p, and 20p (> 20% of informative cases) and 19q (40% of informative cases). Mucoepidermoid carcinoma showed 50% or greater loss at 2q, 5p, 12p, and 16q. Although losses at 9p, 3p, and 17p are common in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, only the carcinoma ex-mixed tumors demonstrated loss at these loci, consistent with progression to a more aggressive phenotype. Salivary gland tumors display allelic loss patterns different from many other tumor types, suggesting distinct genetic pathways in the progression of these tumors.

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This work was supported by Lung Cancer Spore Grant CA-88184-01.

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