One in 10,000 children develops Wilms' tumour, an embryonal malignancy of the kidney1. Although most Wilms' tumours are sporadic, a genetic predisposition is associated with aniridia, genito-urinary malformations and mental retardation (the WAGR syndrome)2. Patients with this syndrome typically exhibit constitutional deletions involving band p13 of one chromosome 11 homologue3,4. It is likely that these deletions overlap a cluster of separate but closely linked genes that control the development of the kidney, iris and urogenital tract (the WAGR complex). A discrete aniridia locus, in particular, has been defined within this chromosomal segment by a reciprocal translocation, transmitted through three generations, which interrupts 11p13 (ref. 5). In addition, the specific loss of chromosome 11p alleles in sporadic Wilms' tumours has been demonstrated, suggesting that the WAGR complex includes a recessive oncogene6-9, analogous to the retinoblastoma locus on chromosome 13 (ref. 10). In WAGR patients, the inherited 11p deletion is thought to represent the first of two events required for the initiation of a Wilms' tumour, as suggested by Knudson from epidemiological data11. We have now isolated the deleted chromosomes 11 from four WAGR patients in hamster-human somatic cell hybrids, and have tested genomic DNA from the hybrids with chromosome 11-specific probes. We show that 4 of 31 markers are deleted in at least one patient, but that of these markers, only the gene encoding the β-subunit of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSHB) is deleted in all four patients. Our results demonstrate close physical linkage between FSHB and the WAGR locus, suggest a gene order for the four deleted markers and exclude other markers tested from this region. In hybrids prepared from a balanced translocation carrier with familial aniridia5, the four markers segregate into proximal and distal groups. The translocation breakpoint, which identifies the position of the aniridia gene on 11p, is immediately proximal to FSHB, in the interval between FSHB and the catalase gene.
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