Fusion of FIG to the receptor tyrosine kinase ROS in a glioblastoma with an interstitial del(6)(q21q21)



The transmembrane proto-oncogene receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) ROS is an orphan receptor that is aberrantly expressed in neoplasms of the central nervous system. Here, we report the fusion of its carboxy-terminal kinase domain to the amino-terminal portion of a protein called FIG (Fused in Glioblastoma) in a human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). By characterizing both FIG and ROS genes in normal and in U118MG GBM cells, we determined that an intra-chromosomal homozygous deletion of 240 kilobases on 6q21 is responsible for the formation of the FIG-ROS locus. The FIG-ROS transcript is encoded by 7 FIG exons and 9 ROS-derived exons. We also demonstrate that the FIG-ROS locus encodes for an in-frame fusion protein with a constitutively active kinase activity, suggesting that FIG-ROS may act as an oncogene. This is the first example of a fusion RTK protein that results from an intra-chromosomal deletion, and it represents the first fusion RTK protein isolated from a human astrocytoma. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.