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Int J Cancer. 2006 Sep 15;119(6):1312-5.

A microsatellite polymorphism in the heme oxygenase-1 gene promoter is associated with risk for melanoma.

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Department of Dermatology, Division of General Dermatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been demonstrated to play an important role in the regulation of signaling systems, which are involved in the control of cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Recently, a (GT)n dinucleotide repeat polymorphism in the HO-1 promoter was shown to modulate HO-1 gene expression. Short (<25 GT) repeats are associated with an increased HO-1 upregulation after stimulation than are longer repeats. Malignant melanoma (MM) is the most serious cutaneous malignancy with high tendency to aggressive growth and resistance to apoptosis. Therefore, we sought to study the influence of this polymorphism on the progression of MM. We determined the HO-1 promoter genotype in 152 patients with MM and 398 healthy controls and studied their association in regard to susceptibility to MM, Breslow thickness and disease-free survival. In our study, the homozygous short allele with <25 (GT)n repeats (S/S) was found more frequently in the melanoma group compared to the healthy control population (21 and 12%, respectively). The calculated risk for acquiring primary MM in S/S carriers was 2-fold higher compared to those with L-allele types (95% confidence interval: 1.2-2.4, p = 0.03). Additionally, the S/S genotype was significantly associated with primary tumors with deeper Breslow thickness compared to L-allele (>25 repeats) carriers (mean Breslow thickness: 4.0 +/- 2.9 mm versus 3.1 +/- 1.7 mm, p = 0.03). These data suggest that HO-1 might render a higher risk for MM in S/S genotype individuals and could represent an important candidate gene in the pathogenesis and growth of malignant melanoma.

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