The 9p21 locus has been deleted at a high frequency in a wide variety of tumors. Recently, two genes, p16INK4A and p15INK4B (also called MTS1 and MTS2), have been localized in close proximity at the 9p21 locus, encoding cyclin-dependent kinases 4/6 inhibitors of relative molecular mass 16 kD and 15 kD, respectively and also found to be deleted at a high frequency in tumor cell lines. We analyzed p16INK4A and p15INK4B genes in 178 cases of primary leukemias including 81 cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), seven of hairy cell leukemia (HCL), seven of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), 43 of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), 27 of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and 13 of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) by Southern blot analyses. The ALL cases showed a relatively high frequency of homozygous deletions (22%, 6 of 27) at the p16INK4A gene locus. Interestingly, of the six cases with p16INK4A homozygous deletions, only three showed homozygous deletions at the p15INK4B gene. In 81 CLL patients, we detected one homozygous and five heterozygous deletions at both the p16INK4A and p15INK4B genes and two heterozygous deletions at the p16INK4A gene alone. Deletion of these two genes in AML cases is relatively low (9%). We did not detect deletions in any of the MDS, HCL, and CML cases examined. Sequence analyses of p16INK4A gene of six CLL cases with heterozygous deletion at this locus showed a 27-bp deletion at the splice acceptor site of intron 1 in one case and changes in the coding sequence in three other cases. The data presented in this report showed that (1) p16INK4A and p15INK4B genes are preferentially deleted homozygously in ALL and heterozygously in CLL cases with frequent mutation in the second allele, and (2) p16INK4A gene appears to be more frequently deleted than p15INK4B gene.

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