Deoxynucleoside analogs are used in the treatment of a variety of solid tumors. Their transport across the plasma membrane may determine their cytotoxicity and thus nucleoside transporter (NT) expression patterns may be of clinical relevance. Lack of appropriate antibodies for use in paraffin-embedded biopsies has been a bottleneck to undertake high-throughput analysis of NT expression in solid tumors. Here we report the characterization of 2 new antibodies raised against the low-affinity equilibrative NTs, hENT1 and hENT2, suitable for that purpose. These 2 antisera, along with a previously characterized antibody that specifically recognizes the high-affinity Na-dependent concentrative NT, hCNT1, have been used to analyze, using a tissue array approach, NT expression in gynecologic cancers (90 ovarian, 80 endometrial and 118 uterine cervix carcinomas). Human CNT1 was not detected in 33% and 39% of the ovarian and uterine cervix carcinomas, respectively, whereas hENT1 and hENT2 expression was significantly retained in a high percentage of tumors (91% and 96% for hENT1, 84% and 98% for hENT2, in ovarian and cervix carcinomas, respectively). Only a few endometrial carcinomas (15%) were found to be negative for hCNT1, but they all retained hENT1 and hENT2 expression. In ovarian cancer, the loss of all 3 NT proteins was a more common event in the clear cell histologic subtype than in the serous, mucinous and endometrioid histotypes. In uterine cervix tumors, the loss of expression of hCNT1 was significantly associated with the adenocarcinoma subtype. In summary, hCNT1 was by far the isoform whose expression was most frequently reduced or lost in the 3 types of gynecologic tumors analyzed. Moreover, NT expression is related to the type of gynecologic tumor and its specific subtype, hCNT1 protein loss being highly correlated with poor prognosis histotypes. Since hCNT1, hENT1 and hENT2 recognize fluoropyrimidines as substrates, but with different affinities, this study anticipates high variability in drug uptake efficiency in solid tumors.
(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.