Absence of MGMT promoter methylation in endometrial cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2009 Jan;112(1):224-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2008.08.038. Epub 2008 Oct 29.


Objective: O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) acts to repair DNA damaged by alkylation of guanine residues. MGMT promoter methylation and gene silencing is seen in a variety of cancers and pre-cancerous changes [Ogino S, Meyerhardt JA, Kawasaki T, et al. CpG island methylation, response to combination chemotherapy, and patient survival in advanced microsatellite stable colorectal carcinoma. Virchows Arch 2007;450:529-37; Rodriguez MJ, Acha A, Ruesga MT, Rodriguez C, Rivera JM, Aguirre JM. Loss of expression of DNA repair enzyme MGMT in oral leukoplakia and early oral squamous cell carcinoma. A prognostic tool? Cancer Lett 2007;245:263-8; Ishii T, Murakami J, Notohara K, et al. Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma may develop within a background of accumulating DNA methylation in normal and dysplastic mucosa. Gut 2007;56:13-9]. The loss of MGMT activity and promoter methylation is associated with increased sensitivity to alkylating agents and is a favorable prognostic indicator in gliomas [Weaver KD, Grossman SA, Herman JG. Methylated tumor-specific DNA as a plasma biomarker in patients with glioma. Cancer Invest 2006;24:35-40; Esteller M, Garcia-Foncillas J, Andion E, et al. Inactivation of the DNA-repair gene MGMT and the clinical response of gliomas to alkylating agents. N Engl J Med 2000;343:1350-4; Hegi ME, Diserens AC, Gorlia T, et al. MGMT gene silencing and benefit from temozolomide in glioblastoma. N Engl J Med 2005;352:997-1003]. We sought to determine if MGMT promoter methylation plays a role in endometrial cancer.

Methods: One hundred and twenty primary endometrial cancers were analyzed for MGMT promoter methylation by combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA). The cohort included 77 endometrioid endometrial cancers, 43 endometrial tumors of adverse histologic type, and 6 endometrial cancer cell lines. Twenty-one endometrioid and mixed endometrioid ovarian cancers were also analyzed. A subset of the primary tumors was analyzed for MGMT expression by immunohistochemistry.

Results: No MGMT promoter methylation was seen in the 120 endometrial cancers evaluated or the 6 endometrial cancer cell lines. One of the 21 endometrioid ovarian cancers showed methylation. Immunohistochemistry revealed moderate to high level expression of MGMT in the primary endometrial tumors.

Conclusion: MGMT promoter methylation is an infrequent event in endometrial cancer. MGMT expression and the ability to repair damaged alkylguanine residues could in part explain the limited response of endometrial tumors to alkylating chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase / biosynthesis
  • O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase