Rat strains differ dramatically in their susceptibility to mammary carcinogenesis. On the assumption that susceptibility genes are conserved across mammalian species and hence inform human carcinogenesis, numerous investigators have used genetic linkage studies in rats to identify genes responsible for differential susceptibility to carcinogenesis. Using a genetic backcross between the resistant Copenhagen (Cop) and susceptible Fischer 344 (F344) strains, we mapped a novel mammary carcinoma susceptibility (Mcs30) locus to the centromeric region on chromosome 12 (LOD score of ∼8.6 at the D12Rat59 marker). The Mcs30 locus comprises approximately 12 Mbp on the long arm of rat RNO12 whose synteny is conserved on human chromosome 13q12 to 13q13. After analyzing numerous genes comprising this locus, we identified Fry, the rat ortholog of the furry gene of Drosophila melanogaster, as a candidate Mcs gene. We cloned and determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the 13 kbp Fry mRNA. Sequence analysis indicated that the Fry gene was highly conserved across evolution, with 90% similarity of the predicted amino acid sequence among eutherian mammals. Comparison of the Fry sequence in the Cop and F344 strains identified two non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), one of which creates a putative, de novo phosphorylation site. Further analysis showed that the expression of the Fry gene is reduced in a majority of rat mammary tumors. Our results also suggested that FRY activity was reduced in human breast carcinoma cell lines as a result of reduced levels or mutation. This study is the first to identify the Fry gene as a candidate Mcs gene. Our data suggest that the SNPs within the Fry gene contribute to the genetic susceptibility of the F344 rat strain to mammary carcinogenesis. These results provide the foundation for analyzing the role of the human FRY gene in cancer susceptibility and progression.
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