Topoisomerase IIalpha gene (TOP2A) amplification and deletion in cancer—more common than anticipated

T A H Järvinen, E T Liu
Cytopathology: Official Journal of the British Society for Clinical Cytology 2003, 14 (6): 309-13
In solid tumours the predominant genetic mechanism for oncogene activation is through amplification of genes. The HER-2 (also known as ErbB2/c-erbB2/HER-2/neu) oncogene is the most frequently amplified oncogene in breast cancer and is also commonly amplified in other forms of cancer. The HER-2 amplicon also contains other biologically relevant genes with altered copy numbers, among these genes is the topoisomerase IIalpha (TOP2A). TOP2A gene is located adjacent to the HER-2 oncogene at the chromosome location 17q12-q21 and is either amplified or deleted, with equal frequency, in almost 90% of HER-2 amplified primary breast tumours. Recent data suggest that amplification and deletion of TOP2A may account for both sensitivity and resistance to topoII-inhibitor-chemotherapy, depending on the specific genetic defect at the TOP2A locus. In this issue of the Cytopathology, Bofin et al. present preliminary evidence for high prevalance of TOP2A amplification and deletion not only in the HER-2 amplified breast tumours, but also in the primary breast tumours without the HER-2 amplification. This finding together with the concept that TOP2A gene amplification and deletion seem to account for both relative chemosensitivity and resistance to topoII-inhibitor therapy further highlights the importance of screening for TOP2A gene copy number aberrations when topoII-inhibitors are considered either alone or in combination of other chemotherapeutic drugs for the treatment of cancer patients.

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