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Cancer Res. 1999 Jun 15;59(12):2995-3002.

Frameshift mutations at mononucleotide repeats in caspase-5 and other target genes in endometrial and gastrointestinal cancer of the microsatellite mutator phenotype.

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The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The majority of tumors from hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer families and a subset of unselected gastrointestinal and endometrial tumors exhibit a microsatellite mutator phenotype (MMP) that leads to the accumulation of hundreds of thousands of clonal mutations in simple repeat sequences. The mutated genes with positive or negative roles in cell growth or survival in aneuploid gastrointestinal cancer (e.g., APC, K-ras, and p53) are less frequently mutated in near-diploid MMP gastrointestinal tumors. These tumors accumulate mutations in other genes, such as DNA mismatch repair hMSH3 and hMSH6, transforming growth factor-beta type II receptor, and BAX. All these genes carry, within their coding sequences, mononucleotide repeats that are preferred targets for the MMP. Endometrial carcinoma is the most common type of extracolonic neoplasia in the hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome, but the spectrum of its target cancer genes is not well characterized. Here, we report that endometrial cancer of the MMP also accumulates mutations in genes that are typically mutated in gastrointestinal cancer of the mutator pathway, including BAX (55%), hMSH3 (28%), and hMSH6 (17%). We also report the detection of frameshift mutations in caspase-5, a member of the caspase family of proteases that has an (A)10 repeat within its coding region, in MMP tumors of the endometrium, colon, and stomach (28, 62, and 44%, respectively). We therefore suggest caspase-5 as a new target gene in the microsatellite mutator pathway for cancer.

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