Aberrant splicing of the TSG101 and FHIT genes occurs frequently in multiple malignancies and in normal tissues and mimics alterations previously described in tumours

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Intragenic deletions of TSG101, the human homolog of a mouse gene (tsg101) that acts to suppress malignant cell growth, were reported in human breast tumours. We screened TSG101 for somatic mutations in DNA and RNA samples isolated from a variety of common human malignancies, EBV-immortalised B-cells, and normal lung parenchyma. Intragenic TSG101 deletions in RNA transcripts were frequently found in all types of samples. Analysis of DNA failed to show genomic rearrangements corresponding to transcripts containing deletions in the same samples. The breakpoints of most transcript deletions coincide with genuine or cryptic splice site sequences, suggesting that they result from alternative or aberrant splicing. A similar spectrum of transcript deletions has previously been described in the putative tumour suppressor gene FHIT. We analysed FHIT in the same series of RNA samples and detected truncated FHIT transcripts frequently in both tumour and normal tissues. In addition, transcripts from TSG101, FHIT and seven other genes were analysed in RNA isolated from normal peripheral blood lymphocytes. Large TSG101 and FHIT intragenic transcript deletions were detected and these appeared to be the predominant transcript in `aged' lymphocytes. Similar alterations were not detected in transcripts of the other genes which were analysed. Our findings demonstrate that truncated TSG101 and FHIT transcripts are commonly detected in both normal and malignant tissues and that a significant fraction of these are likely to be the result of aberrant splicing. While we cannot exclude that alterations in TSG101 and FHIT occur during cancer development, our data indicate that in this context the commonly observed transcript abnormalities are misleading.

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Correspondence to Carlos Caldas.

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  • TSG101
  • FHIT
  • splicing
  • tumour

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