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, 126 (5), 548-53

Promoter Hypermethylation: An Important Epigenetic Mechanism for hMLH1 Gene Inactivation in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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Promoter Hypermethylation: An Important Epigenetic Mechanism for hMLH1 Gene Inactivation in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Kela Liu et al. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.

Abstract

Objective: The hMLH1 gene is one of the mismatch DNA repair genes. Inactivation of the hMLH1 gene has been implicated in the tumorigenesis of many types of human cancers. In most sporadic forms of human cancers, promoter hypermethylation is responsible for hMLH1 gene inactivation. Lack of hMLH1 protein expression has been found in a subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether promoter hypermethylation causes hMLH1 gene inactivation in HNSCCs.

Study design: hMLH1 protein expression was determined by immunohistochemical staining in 62 cases, whereas hMLH1 gene promoter methylation was analyzed by methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme digestion, followed by polymerase chain reaction, in 35 cases of HNSCCs.

Results: Sixteen (26%) of 62 cases of HNSCCs showed near-complete loss of hMLH1 protein expression on immunohistochemical staining. Twelve (92%) of 13 cases that were negative for the hMLH1 protein displayed promoter hypermethylation, whereas 17 (77%) of 22 cases positive for the protein were free of promoter methylation.

Conclusions: Promoter hypermethylation may be an important mechanism for hMLH1 gene inactivation in a subset of HNSCCs.

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