Functional polymorphism of the thymidylate synthase gene in colorectal cancer accompanied by frequent loss of heterozygosity

Jpn J Cancer Res. 2002 Nov;93(11):1221-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2002.tb01227.x.


The thymidylate synthase (TS) gene has a polymorphic repeated sequence in its 5'-untranslated region. The repeat length is associated with TS protein expression, which suggests that we may be able to predict the efficacy of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy from a patient's TS genotype determined through analysis of normal tissue obtained non-invasively. However, it is not yet elucidated whether the TS genotype is identical in tumor and normal tissue. In this study, we investigated the TS genotype in 151 matched tumor and normal DNA samples isolated from colorectal cancer and adjacent normal tissues by PCR analysis. The results showed that TS genotypes are identical in normal and tumor tissues of homozygous individuals, suggesting that the repeat sequence is stable through carcinogenesis. However, in heterozygous samples, an imbalance between the 2R and 3R alleles in the tumor DNA was frequently observed, suggesting loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the TS locus. Detailed LOH analysis revealed that 62% (31 of 50) of 2R/3R-heterozygous samples had LOH. Frequent LOH at the TS locus was confirmed by RT-PCR of TS mRNA and microsatellite analysis using the marker D18S59, located on 18p11.3. There was no difference in the expressions of TS mRNA and TS protein between LOH and non-LOH samples. However, when the heterozygous genotype bearing LOH was subdivided according to the number of repeats, the cancer tissue with 2R/loss genotype expressed a significantly lower level of TS protein than did that with 3R/loss genotype. The results suggest that the difference in TS genotype between tumor and normal tissue due to LOH should be considered when the genotype is analyzed with normal tissue, such as peripheral blood cells, because it is important for TS protein expression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Loss of Heterozygosity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Tandem Repeat Sequences
  • Thymidylate Synthase / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thymidylate Synthase
  • Fluorouracil