A novel strategy to determine the clonal origin of human tumors has been devised. The strategy involves the use of a cloned polymorphic X-chromosomal gene and two restriction endonucleases. The first endonuclease distinguishes the paternal and maternal copies of the gene through a DNA polymorphism of restriction fragment length. The second endonuclease distinguishes active from inactive copies of this gene through changes in DNA methylation. As illustrations of this strategy, three human cancers were each shown to be monoclonal. The analysis described should have a wide variety of clinical and experimental applications.
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