Genetic events leading to the loss of heterozygosity (LOH) have been shown to play a crucial role in the development of cancer. However, LOH events do not occur only in genetically unstable cancer cells but also have been detected in normal somatic cells of mouse and man. Mice, in which one of the alleles for adenine phosphoribosyltransferase (Aprt) has been disrupted by gene targeting, were used to investigate the potency of carcinogens to induce LOH in vivo. After 7,12-dimethyl-1,2-benz[a]anthracene (DMBA) exposure, a 3-fold stronger mutagenic response was detected at the autosomal Aprt gene than at the X chromosomal hypoxantine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (Hprt) gene in splenic T-lymphocytes. Allele- specific PCR analysis showed that the normal, nontargeted Aprt allele was lost in 70% of the DMBA-induced Aprt mutants. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis demonstrated that the targeted allele had become duplicated in almost all DMBA-induced mutants that displayed LOH at Aprt. These results indicate that the main mechanisms by which DMBA caused LOH were mitotic recombination or chromosome loss and duplication but not deletion. However, after treatment with the alkylating agent N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea, Aprt had a similar mutagenic response to Hprt while the majority (90%) of N- ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced Aprt mutants had retained both alleles. Unexpectedly, irradiation with x-rays, which induce primarily large deletions, resulted in a significant increase of the mutant frequency at Hprt but not at Aprt. This in vivo study clearly indicates that, in normal somatic cells, carcinogen exposure can result in the induction of LOH events that are compatible with cell survival and may represent an initiating event in tumorigenesis.,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Department of Molecular Genetics

Wijnhoven, S., van Sloun, P. P., Kool, H., Weeda, G., Slater, R., Lohmann, P., … Vrieling, H. (1998). Carcinogen-induced loss of heterozygosity at the Aprt locus in somatic cells of the mouse. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(23), 13759–13764. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.23.13759