The constitutive fragile site at human chromosomal band 3p14.2, FRA3B, has been described as the most active common fragile site in the human genome. FRA3B is cytologically indistinguishable from the chromosome 3 breakpoint observed in the hereditary renal cell carcinoma (hRCC) translocation t(3;8) (p14.2;q24.13). Previous work demonstrated that a 1330- kb YAC clone, YC850A6, spans both the t(3;8) translocation and FRA3B and also encompasses FRA3B-associated breakpoints induced in hamster-human hybrids. This YAC was used to construct a multi-hit cosmid library. Screening of this library resulted in a 350-kb cosmid contig that extends distally from the t(3;8) translocation breakpoint. Seventeen aphidicolin-induced 3p14.2 breakpoints derived from hamster-human hybrids were mapped within this cosmid contig. These breakpoints were found to localize as two distinct clusters, separated by 200 kb, which lie on either side of a region of frequent breakage within FRA3B as defined by FISH analysis using cosmids from the contigs. The most proximal of the breakpoint clusters lies approximately 100 kb distal to the hRCC t(3;8) breakpoint. The distribution of these breakpoints, together with the region of frequent chromosomal breakage mapped by FISH analysis, further confirms the position of FRA3B and helps to define the extent over which its fragility is exerted. These data indicate that FRA3B comprises several hundred kilobases of DNA sequence within 3p14.2. The 350-kb contig and the cosmid library constructed from YAC YC850A6 will be essential for further characterization of the region surrounding FRA3B and in experiments to determine the molecular basis of the fragility of FRA3B.
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