Genetic or epigenetic inactivation of one of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes in tumor precursor cells causes a profound mutator phenotype, known as the microsatellite mutator phenotype (MMP). This mutator phenotype induces mutations not only in cancer genes that drive tumorigenesis but also in other DNA repair genes. The functional significance of these successive DNA repair gene mutations, however, has not been substantiated. Here we show that the concomitant inactivation of two DNA MMR genes (hMLH1 and hMSH6) increases the mutator phenotype. We isolated cell clones of the SW48 MMP-positive cell line with either active or inactive hMSH6. All of these clones lacked expression of hMLH1 because of promoter hypermethylation. Compared with inactivation of hMLH1 alone, the additional inactivation of hMSH6 produced a higher mutation rate and a different spectrum of mutations in the endogenous hprt gene. These results confirm our model that the mutator phenotype can increase during tumorigenesis by the consecutive inactivation of different members of the DNA MMR system. Thus, a stronger mutator phenotype accelerates the accumulation of mutations in target cancer genes, which, in turn, speeds up tumor progression. The results of this study also have significant impact on our understanding of the mechanism of DNA MMR.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 18 Dec 2001|