We examined 169 cases of gastric adenocarcinoma for microsatellite instability (MSI), using a panel of 8 microsatellite markers. Of these cases, 142 were from the United States, a country of relatively low risk for gastric cancer. Comparing microdissected tumors to normal cells from the same patient, we classified tumors as being microsatellite-stable (MSS) or having a low frequency of MSI (MSI-L, up to 30% of markers different in the tumor) or a high frequency of MSI (MSI-H, 30% or more of markers different). Among our American cases, we identified 26 (18.2%) showing MSI-H and 15 (10.6%) showing MSI-L. Twenty cases were from Korean patients, and they showed no significant differences in proportions of MSI-H and MSI-L from the American cases. MSI-H tumors in the American patients were characterized by elevated frequencies of band shifts in repeat sequences of the BAX (50%), transforming growth factor-beta receptor type II (TGFbetaRII, 68.9%), beta(2)-microglobulin (21.4%) and E2F4 (51.7%) genes. Alterations in E2F4 in MSI-H tumors were always integral multiples of 3 nucleotides lost or gained, which would not cause a frameshift mutation, and within the range of normal polymorphisms for this sequence. North American patients (n = 127) with MSI-H and MSI-L tumors had a longer median survival of 541 days and 587 days, respectively, compared to 265 days for patients with MSS tumors (p = 0.027). This survival difference may result from a significantly greater tendency for metastases in the MSS group (p = 0.031).
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.