The beclin 1 (BECN1) gene encodes a 60-kDa coiled-coil protein that interacts with the prototypic apoptosis inhibitor Bcl-2. Previous studies indicate that beclin 1 maps to a region approximately 150 kb centromeric to BRCA1 on chromosome 17q21 that is commonly deleted in breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. The complete cDNA sequence of beclin 1 encodes a 2098-bp transcript, with a 120-bp 5' UTR, 1353-bp coding region, and 625-bp 3' UTR. Hybridization screening of a human genomic PAC library identified PAC 452O8, which contains the complete beclin 1 gene. Determination of the exon-intron structure of beclin 1 reveals 12 exons, ranging from 61 to 794 bp, which extend over 12 kb of the human genome. FISH analysis of human breast carcinoma cell lines using PAC 452O8 as probe identified allelic beclin 1 deletions in 9 of 22 cell lines. Sequencing of genomic DNA from 10 of these cell lines revealed no mutations in coding regions or splice junctions. Additionally, Northern blot analysis of 11 cell lines did not identify any abnormalities in beclin 1 transcripts. These results indicate that human breast carcinoma cell lines frequently contain allelic deletions of beclin 1, but not beclin 1 coding mutations. Copyright 1999 Academic Press.