Genomic alterations and abnormal expression of the FHIT gene at 3p14.2 have been observed in cell lines and primary tumors of the lung. To correlate FHIT locus DNA and RNA lesions with effects on Fhit protein expression, we have analyzed 11 lung cancer cell lines, 15 small cell lung carcinomas, and 38 pairs of non-small cell primary tumors and bronchial mucosa specimens by molecular genetic and immunocytochemical methods. Using specific antibodies against the Fhit protein, we observed concordance between RNA abnormalities and lack of Fhit protein expression in lung tumors and cell lines. In addition, absence of Fhit protein in some precancerous dysplastic lesions suggested that FHIT inactivation may occur at an early phase of lung carcinogenesis.
This work was supported by grants from the Italian Association for Cancer Research, The Italian National Research Council, and by USPHS Grants CA21124 and CA56336. L. S. is an Italian Association for Cancer Research Fellow.