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Abstract

We investigated 39 primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) for aberrations in DNA copy number, using comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). Gain of DNA at 8q was common in these tumors; high-level gains, indicative of gene amplification, occurred most frequently at 8q23-q24. Gains of 8q correlated with large (>5 cm) tumor size. To identify targets of the amplification events involving 8q, we determined expression levels of 14 candidate genes within that region in a total of 41 HCCs by means of real-time quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR). Significant correlation was found between elevated levels of expression and increases in copy number for PTK2 (located at 8q24.3) and EIF3S3 (at 8q23.3), but for none of the other candidates, which included MYC (8q24.1). Southern blot analyses confirmed that PTK2 and EIF3S3 were amplified, respectively, in 5 (19%) and 7 (26%) of the 27 tumors examined in accordance with expression patterns, an indication that expression of PTK2 and EIF3S3 was probably up-regulated by the amplification mechanism. When we analyzed potential relationships between elevated expression of PTK2 and EIF3S3 and clinicopathologic parameters, high expression of the 2 transcripts was significantly associated with large (>5 cm) tumor size and with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. In conclusion, PTK2 and EIF3S3, which, respectively, encode focal adhesion kinase and the p40 subunit of the eukaryotic initiation factor 3, were probable targets within the amplification at 8q23-q24 and may be involved in progression of HCC.