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Blood. 1999 Jul 15;94(2):803-7.

Prevalence of the inactivating 609C-->T polymorphism in the NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) gene in patients with primary and therapy-related myeloid leukemia.

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  • 1Section of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Cancer Research Center of the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) converts benzene-derived quinones to less toxic hydroquinones and has been implicated in benzene-associated hematotoxicity. A point mutation in codon 187 (Pro to Ser) results in complete loss of enzyme activity in homozygous subjects, whereas those with 2 wild-type alleles have normal activity. The frequency of homozygosity for the mutant allele among Caucasians and African Americans is 4% to 5% but is higher in Hispanics and Asians. Using an unambiguous polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, we assayed nonmalignant lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from 104 patients with myeloid leukemias; 56 had therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (t-AML), 30 had a primary myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), 9 had AML de novo, and 9 had chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). All patients had their leukemia cells karyotyped. Eleven percent of the t-AML patients were homozygous and 41% were heterozygous for the NQO1 polymorphism; these proportions were significantly higher than those expected in a population of the same ethnic mix (P =.036). Of the 45 leukemia patients who had clonal abnormalities of chromosomes 5 and/or 7, 7 (16%) were homozygous for the inactivating polymorphism, 17 (38%) were heterozygous, and 21 (47%) had 2 wild-type alleles for NQO1. Thus, NQO1 mutations were significantly increased compared with the expected proportions: 5%, 34%, and 61%, respectively (P =.002). An abnormal chromosome no. 5 or 7 was observed in 7 of 8 (88%) homozygotes, 17 of 45 (38%) heterozygotes, and 21 of 51 (41%) patients with 2 wild-type alleles. Among 33 patients with balanced translocations [14 involving bands 11q23 or 21q22, 10 with inv(16) or t(15;17), and 9 with t(9;22)], there were no homozygotes, 15 (45%) heterozygotes, and 18 (55%) with 2 wild-type alleles. Whereas fewer than 3 homozygotes were expected among the 56 t-AML patients, 6 were observed; 19 heterozygotes were expected, but 23 were observed. The gene frequency for the inactivating polymorphism (0. 31) was increased approximately 1.4-fold among the 56 t-AML patients. This increase was observed within each of the following overlapping cohorts of t-AML patients: the 43 who had received an alkylating agent, the 27 who had received a topoisomerase II inhibitor, and the 37 who had received any radiotherapy. Thus, the frequency of an inactivating polymorphism in NQO1 appears to be increased in this cohort of myeloid leukemias, especially among those with t-AML or an abnormality of chromosomes 5 and/or 7. Homozygotes and heterozygotes (who are at risk for treatment-induced mutation or loss of the remaining wild-type allele in their hematopoietic stem cells) may be particularly vulnerable to leukemogenic changes induced by carcinogens.

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