Characterization of topoisomerase II alpha gene amplification and deletion in breast cancer

T A Järvinen, M Tanner, M Bärlund, A Borg, J Isola
Genes, Chromosomes & Cancer 1999, 26 (2): 142-50
Topoisomerase IIalpha (TOP2A) is a key enzyme in DNA replication and a molecular target for many important anticancer drugs. TOP2A is amplified or deleted together with amplification of the closely located ERBB2/HER-2/neu oncogene in breast cancer. We characterized the copy number aberrations of TOP2A and ERBB2 in 136 primary breast tumors by FISH. Among the 70 primary tumors with ERBB2 amplification, amplification of TOP2A was found in 29 (41%); 30 tumors (43%) showed a physical deletion of TOP2A; and the copy number for TOP2A was not altered in 11 tumors with ERBB2 amplification (16%). No TOP2A gene aberrations were identified in 65 primary tumors without ERBB2 amplification. Fiber FISH revealed that simultaneously amplified ERBB2 and TOP2A were not present in the same amplicon, because repetitive tandem repeat-like signals of ERBB2 and TOP2A were in separate DNA fibers. The deletion of TOP2A (seen in the MDA-361 cell line and in 31 primary tumors) was interstitial, spanning less than two megabases of DNA. Mean copy numbers of TOP2A (2.4 +/- 0.6 for TOP2A vs. 4.9 +/- 1.1 for chromosome 17 centromere) suggest that the deletion of TOP2A occurs before polyploidization of the genome. Eight primary tumors with high-level ERBB2 amplification showed a new type of intratumoral heterogeneity; two different cell clones with either high-level amplification or deletion of TOP2A were found adjacent to each other in the same tumor. These results indicate that amplification of the ERBB2 oncogene is followed by complex secondary genetic aberrations, which lead to amplification or deletion of the TOP2A gene in a majority of tumors. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 26:142-150, 1999.

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