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Loss of expression of a tumor-suppressing gene is an attractive model to explain the cytogenetic and epidemiologic features of cases of myelodysplasia and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) associated with bone marrow monosomy 7 or partial deletion of the long arm (7q-). We used probes from within the breakpoint region on 7q-chromosomes (7q22-34) that detect restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) to investigate three families in which two siblings developed myelodysplasia with monosomy 7. In the first family, probes from the proximal part of this region identified DNA derived from the same maternal chromosome in both leukemias. The RFLPs in these siblings diverged at the more distal J3.11 marker due to a mitotic recombination in one patient, a result that suggested a critical region on 7q proximal to probe J3.11. Detailed RFLP mapping of the implicated region was then performed in two additional unrelated pairs of affected siblings. In these families, DNA derived from different parental chromosome 7s was retained in the leukemic bone marrows of the siblings. We conclude that the familial predisposition to myelodysplasia is not located within a consistently deleted segment on the long arm of chromosome 7. These data provide evidence implicating multiple genetic events in the pathogenesis of myelodysplasia seen in association with bone marrow monosomy 7 or 7q-.