High frequency of inactivating mutations in the neurofibromatosis type 2 gene (NF2) in primary malignant mesotheliomas

A B Bianchi, S I Mitsunaga, J Q Cheng, W M Klein, S C Jhanwar, B Seizinger, N Kley, A J Klein-Szanto, J R Testa
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1995 November 21, 92 (24): 10854-8
Malignant mesotheliomas (MMs) are aggressive tumors that develop most frequently in the pleura of patients exposed to asbestos. In contrast to many other cancers, relatively few molecular alterations have been described in MMs. The most frequent numerical cytogenetic abnormality in MMs is loss of chromosome 22. The neurofibromatosis type 2 gene (NF2) is a tumor suppressor gene assigned to chromosome 22q which plays an important role in the development of familial and spontaneous tumors of neuroectodermal origin. Although MMs have a different histogenic derivation, the frequent abnormalities of chromosome 22 warranted an investigation of the NF2 gene in these tumors. Both cDNAs from 15 MM cell lines and genomic DNAs from 7 matched primary tumors were analyzed for mutations within the NF2 coding region. NF2 mutations predicting either interstitial in-frame deletions or truncation of the NF2-encoded protein (merlin) were detected in eight cell lines (53%), six of which were confirmed in primary tumor DNAs. In two samples that showed NF2 gene transcript alterations, no genomic DNA mutations were detected, suggesting that aberrant splicing may constitute an additional mechanism for merlin inactivation. These findings implicate NF2 in the oncogenesis of primary MMs and provide evidence that this gene can be involved in the development of tumors other than nervous system neoplasms characteristic of the NF2 disorder. In addition, unlike NF2-related tumors, MM derives from the mesoderm; malignancies of this origin have not previously been associated with frequent alterations of the NF2 gene.

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