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Loss of chromosome arm 1p DNA is the most common molecular defect thus far observed in human parathyroid adenomas, suggesting that 1p is the location of a putative tumor suppressor gene (or genes) whose inactivation contributes frequently to parathyroid tumorigenesis. To narrow the genomic location of this tumor suppressor gene, we analyzed 25 sporadic parathyroid adenomas for allelic loss of polymorphic DNA loci on chromosome 1 using 11 microsatellite markers not previously scored for this set of tumors. Allelic loss on chromosome arm 1p DNA was observed in 8 of 25 adenomas. Marker deletion patterns showed some complexity, with the regions most commonly deleted in these tumors being 1p36 and 1p35-p31. The 1p35-p31 region contains an excellent candidate tumor suppressor gene, p18, whose product is a cell cycle regulator that inhibits the cyclin D1-associated kinase CDK6. Given that cyclin D1 is a parathyroid oncogene, inactivation of an inhibitor of cyclin D1 function, like p18, might also cause excessive parathyroid growth. To examine the involvement of p18 in parathyroid tumorigenesis, we analyzed 25 parathyroid adenomas for mutations of the p18 coding exons by single strand conformational polymorphism analysis and sequencing. No point mutations were found in any of the 25 adenomas. These observations indicate that inactivating mutation of the p18 gene occurs uncommonly, if at all, in parathyroid adenomas. In addition, the data raise the important possibility that more than a single tumor suppressor gene on 1p could contribute to parathyroid neoplasia.