Objective: To investigate ras gene alteration in human gastric adenocarcinomas and its potential relationship to ras signal transduction mediators.
Design: Genomic DNA from 104 gastric tumors were analyzed by sequencing of polymerase chain reaction-amplified products for the presence of ras mutations. All the samples were further investigated with the use of immunohistochemical analysis for ERK1 and ERK2.
Setting: Tertiary care teaching hospital.
Patients: Seventy patients from a Korean population and 34 from a Midwestern US population composed of white Americans and African Americans.
Results: Fifteen tumors (14%) were positive for either H-ras or K-ras mutation: 9 (13%) of 70 Korean patients and 6 (18%) of 34 US patients. Seven (78%) of the 9 mutated tumors from Korean patients and all 6 (100%) from the US patients were intestinal-type lesions. Either ERK1 and/or ERK2 was overexpressed in 68 samples (65%). No association was established between ras mutations and overexpression of ERK1/2. However, the correlation between ERK1/2 and progression (early vs late) was statistically significant (P =.007).
Conclusions: These data suggest that ras mutations are uncommon in gastric adenocarcinomas and that differing racial and/or geographic mechanisms may not underlie ras gene alteration. Most ras mutations were, however, observed in the group of intestinal-type samples, supporting the different genetic mechanisms of carcinogenesis between the intestinal- and diffuse-type tumors. It is noteworthy that enhanced ERK1/2 activity could be one of the characteristics of tumor invasiveness in gastric cancers.