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A 17p11.2 germline deletion in a patient with Smith-Magenis syndrome and neuroblastoma
  1. T Hienonen1,
  2. H Sammalkorpi1,
  3. P Isohanni2,3,
  4. R Versteeg4,
  5. R Karikoski5,
  6. L A Aaltonen1
  1. 1Department of Medical Genetics, Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Department of Medical Genetics, The Family Federation of Finland, Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3Department of Pediatric Neurology, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  4. 4Departments of Human Genetics and Pediatric Oncology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5Central Pathology Laboratory, Helsinki University Hospital Laboratory Diagnostics, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
 L A Aaltonen
 Department of Medical Genetics, Biomedicum Helsinki, P.O. Box 63, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland;

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Neuroblastoma is the most frequently occurring extracranial tumour type in children. It arises from the undifferentiated neural crest derived cells destined to become the sympathetic nervous system, and primary tumours typically occur in the adrenal medulla and paraspinal location in the abdomen or chest. At diagnosis, most children of >1 year of age have metastases, commonly in lymph nodes, bones, or bone marrow. However, in addition to potential lethal progression, neuroblastomas occasionally mature into benign ganglioneuromas or spontaneously regress, even without treatment.1,2

Several acquired genetic changes have been described in neuroblastoma, the most frequent being MYCN oncogene amplification, 1p deletion, and 17q amplification.3 These alterations have been associated with aggressive forms of the disease; MYCN amplification in particular is used as a prognostic marker. In addition, chromosome number changes, translocations, and deletions in several other parts of the genome have been identified, but the significance of these changes needs further clarification.

A small subset of neuroblastoma cases have a family history of the disease and are diagnosed at a younger age with multifocal primary tumours.4 Hence Knudson and Strong postulated that the two hit model of cancer initiation could be applied to neuroblastoma, and that the mode of inheritance was consistent with autosomal dominant Mendelian pattern with incomplete penetrance.

Some linkage studies have been performed on familial neuroblastomas, and linkage to 4p16 and 16p12-13 has been suggested in families from Europe and North America, respectively.5,6 However, the chromosome 16p region was tested for linkage with negative results in Italian and British families.5–7 In addition, the known candidate neuroblastoma loci that are frequently altered sporadically have been excluded in some neuroblastoma families.5,7 Thus, despite extensive studies into neuroblastoma susceptibility, the putative predisposing genetic changes have remained unidentified, and additional analyses are …

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  • Competing interests: none declared

  • The first two authors contributed equally to this study.