Neuroblastoma is characterized by numerous recurrent large-scale chromosomal imbalances and gene amplifications which are associated with poor clinical outcome. The most common include MYCN amplification, loss of 1p, 3p and 11q, and gain of 17q genomic regions. Two of these abnormalities, MYCN amplification and loss of 11q, define different genetic subtypes of the disease with vastly different global gene expression profiles. The progress towards the identification of the genes and genetic pathways that have been affected by these abnormalities is reviewed and high resolution mapping of the chromosomal breakpoint regions using oligonucleotide array CGH (oaCGH) is discussed. oaCGH analysis is proving useful for both defining minimal regions of overlap of imbalances, as well as providing information on the molecular mechanisms that generate the chromosomal imbalances. These high resolution analyses have also permitted the detection of micro-deletions in the tumors that further assist in identifying genes important for neuroblastoma pathogenesis.

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