Correlation of methylation of the hMLH1 promoter with lack of expression of hMLH1 in sporadic gastric carcinomas with replication error

Lab Invest. 1999 Jul;79(7):903-9.


Recent studies have demonstrated that the majority of sporadic colorectal carcinomas with replication error (RER) do not harbor mutations of the hMLH1 and hMSH2 genes that account for about 70% of hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer. Despite the absence of mutations of the hMLH1 gene, the majority of RER-positive sporadic colorectal carcinomas lack hMLH1 protein expression, which have been reported to be related to hypermethylation of the promoter region of hMLH1 gene. High frequency of microsatellite instability (MSI) has been observed in about 15% of sporadic gastric carcinomas. The relationship of tumor MSI, methylation of promoter regions of hMLH1 or hMSH2, and expression of corresponding gene products has not been studied in gastric carcinomas as thoroughly as in colorectal carcinomas. We explored the relationship between methylation of hMLH1 or hMSH2 promoter regions and its protein expression in both RER-positive and RER-negative gastric carcinomas. Of 93 cases, 20 cases comprised the RER+ group (MSI-H tumors) and the remainder comprised the RER- group (7 cases, MSI-L; 66 cases, MSS). By immunohistochemistry absence of hMLH1 protein expression was limited entirely to the RER+ group (20 of 20, 100%). All 93 cases showed hMSH2 protein expression. Nineteen (95%) of 20 RER+ tumors harbored hypermethylation of the hMLH1 promoter region whereas only four cases (5.5%) of the 73 RER- tumors did. Hypermethylation of the hMSH2 promoter region was not observed in either the RER+ group or the RER- group. These results suggest that hypermethylation of the hMLH1 promoter region may be the principal mechanism of gene inactivation in sporadic gastric carcinomas with a high frequency of MSI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA Replication*
  • Humans
  • MutL Protein Homolog 1
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Periodicity
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • MLH1 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • MutL Protein Homolog 1