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Blood. 1999 Jul 15;94(2):733-40.

Microsatellite instability and p53 mutations are associated with abnormal expression of the MSH2 gene in adult acute leukemia.

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Division of Haematology, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, the University of Nottingham, UK.


Microsatellite instability (MSI) and p53 mutations have been reported to occur in a significant proportion of patients with therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (AML). MSH2 is one of the genes involved in DNA mismatch repair to maintain fidelity of genomic replication, and defects of MSH2 are directly involved in MSI in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal tumors and other human tumors. We have examined the expression of MSH2 protein by Western blotting in 43 adult leukemia samples, including 42 AML and 1 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) using the antibody MSH2 (Ab-1) (Calbiochem, La Jolla, CA). Abnormal expression of MSH2 protein was found in 14 of 43 (32.6%) cases; a control antibody to actin was always positive. Of the 14 patients that had abnormal expression of MSH2, 2 had therapy-related acute leukemia and 9 were elderly patients (>60 years of age). Expression of MSH2 mRNA was further examined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Deletion of MSH2 mRNA was found in 1 of 14 cases with deficient MSH2 protein expression. This group of patients was also screened for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MSH2 locus using a panel 4 microsatellite markers (D2S367, D2S288, D2S391, and D2S2294). LOH was found in 5 of 11 cases examined. There was no evidence of LOH in 14 patients with normal MSH2 expression who were examined using the same markers. Functional evidence for defective DNA mismatch repair in leukemic cells lacking MSH2 as manifest by MSI was found in 7 of 11 cases studied. Mutations of the p53 gene in these 43 samples were also investigated by direct sequencing of full-length p53 cDNA. Mutations of p53 were found in 6 of 43 cases, including 5 of the 14 (35.7%) cases that did not express MSH2 protein. In contrast, mutation of p53 was only found in 1 of 29 (3.4%) cases with normal MSH2 protein expression (chi2 = 5.720, P <.02). These results suggest that abnormalities of DNA mismatch repair due to defective MSH2 expression could play a key role in leukemogenesis, in particular in AML arising in elderly patients or secondary to previous chemotherapy.

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