Background: The human mismatch repair (MMR) gene hMSH2 (human mutS homolog-2) is a DNA repair gene that has been reported to be mutated in 40% of hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) kindreds and a small percentage of sporadic tumors. HNPCC is a cancer predisposition syndrome with an increased risk of carcinoma of the colon, endometrium, stomach, small intestine, ovary, ureter, and renal pelvis. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated increased hMSH2 expression in sporadic colon carcinoma and in the replicative compartment of normal epithelium. A recent immunohistochemical analysis of hMSH2 in bladder tumors correlated reduced hMSH2 expression with recurrence and higher tumor grade. In the current study, we examined hMSH2 expression in urothelial malignancy using immunohistochemical analysis and developed a molecular assay for the detection of hMSH2 expression in bladder washes.
Methods: Immunohistochemical analysis of 17 tumors from the genitourinary tract and reverse transcription coupled with polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of 40 bladder washes were used to investigate hMSH2 expression in noninvasive and invasive urothelial malignancies.
Results: Increased expression of hMSH2 was detected in all tumors examined using immunohistochemical analysis independent of grade or stage. Reverse transcription-PCR of hMSH2 mRNA from bladder washes detected 17 of 21 patients with primary or recurrent urothelial neoplasms or tumors involving the urothelial system. Four patients with urothelial malignancies without detectable hMSH2 expression from their bladder washes had high grade lesions. Ten of 13 patients without pathologic or cystoscopic evidence of bladder tumors were negative for hMSH2 expression in bladder washes. Two patients with bladder tumors and bladder washes that were positive for hMSH2 subsequently were found to be negative for hMSH2 after treatment of their tumors and at last follow-up had remained recurrence free for at least 1 year.
Conclusions: The results of the current study suggest that hMSH2 expression is increased in low and high grade urothelial neoplasms, similar to the expression pattern in sporadic colon carcinoma. However, a fraction of high grade lesions may not express hMSH2 as detected by RT-PCR from bladder washes. The ability to detect hMSH2 expression in bladder washes may allow the use of hMSH2 expression as a marker for urothelial malignancy. In addition, the ability to define hMSH2 deficient tumors using bladder washes may have prognostic significance in the treatment of patients with urothelial carcinoma.