The human homolog of the Drosophila Patched gene (PTCH), located at chromosome 9q22.3, is frequently altered in both nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, and sporadic basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). However, alteration of the PTCH gene locus has been poorly studied in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). We analyzed loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at five markers in and around the PTCH gene in 276 keratinocyte tumors from a population-based study in New Hampshire. We found a high prevalence of any 9q22.3 LOH in both BCC (75.5%) and SCC (60.8%), with BCC being significantly more likely to have LOH than SCC (P<0.009). The PTCH gene was specifically lost in 60% of BCC, and 50% of SCC tumors. Among SCC tumors, 9q22 LOH was significantly more likely to occur in those who tend to burn (P<0.05), and this association was strongest for tumors that occurred on sun-exposed areas of the body (P<0.04). Additionally, 9q22 LOH occurred more frequently in SCC tumors associated with a history of severe sunburns (P<0.08). Thus, in our large, population-based sample, 9q22 loss, including PTCH, was highly prevalent in both BCC and SCC. Overall, these data support the hypothesis that PTCH loss is a common, early lesion for SCC and BCC.
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We thank Drs. Howard Liber, Joseph Paulauskis, John Little, and Carmen Marsit for helpful discussion, and Megan Bronson, Brock Christensen, Virginia Stannard, Rachel Dow, Christine Hodorowski, and Leila Mott for technical assistance. We are indebted to the NH Skin Cancer Study Group for their collaboration. This work was supported by NIH Grants CA82354, CA09078, CA57494, T32 CA09078, P42ES5947, P42ES07373, and ES00002.