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J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1998;124(8):421-6.

Absence or decreased levels of the hMLH1 protein in human gastric carcinoma cell lines: implication of hMLH1 in alkylation tolerance.

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Cancer Research Center and Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.


Defective hMLH1 function has been increasingly associated with acquired cellular resistance to DNA alkylation damage in human colorectal and endometrial cancer cells. To investigate the relationship between the DNA alkylation tolerance and the hMLH1 status in human gastric carcinoma cells, we determined the cellular response to N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG), the mutational changes, and the expression of hMLH1 in 11 human gastric carcinoma cell lines. Of 11 cell lines, 4 (SNU-5, -16, -620, and -719) were sensitive, whereas 7 (SNU-1, -216, -484, -520, -601, -638, and -668) were resistant to the cytotoxic effect of MNNG. As determined by Western analysis, it was evident that all the MNNG-resistant cell lines except one (SNU-601) produced very low or undetectable levels of hMLH1 protein compared to the MNNG-sensitive cell lines. A homozygous non-sense mutation that resulted in truncated protein was found in one MNNG-resistant cell line (SNU-1). Therefore, to determine whether the sensitivity of cells to MNNG can be restored by exogenous expression of hMLH1 protein, wild-type hMLH1 cDNA was introduced into the MNNG-resistant cells (SNU-1). The cytotoxicity test showed that expression of exogenous wild-type hMLH1 protein caused an increase in sensitivity to the cytotoxic effect of MNNG. This restoration was confirmed by an increase in the cell population containing less than the G1 amount of DNA (cell death) in the wild-type hMLH1-transfected cells, as determined by flow cytometry analysis. Together our results suggest that (1) the absence or decreased level of wild-type hMLH1 protein may be a frequent event in the human gastric carcinoma cell lines, (2) such alterations in the hMLH1 protein are closely associated with the MNNG tolerance in the human gastric carcinoma cell lines, and (3) the hMLH1 protein participates not only in the repair of DNA mismatches but also in the mechanism of escape from the cytotoxic effects of DNA alkylation damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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