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MGMT promoter hypermethylation and K-RAS, PTEN and TP53 mutations in tamoxifen-exposed and non-exposed endometrial cancer cases

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  • E. Nagy
  • Ketan Gajjar
  • Imran I. Patel
  • S. Taylor
  • Pierre Leonard Martin-Hirsch
  • Helen F. Stringfellow
  • Francis Luke Martin
  • David H. Phillips
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/06/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>British Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
Volume110
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)2874-2880
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date22/05/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

background: Tamoxifen has anti-oestrogenic and anti-tumour activity in the breast, but is oestrogenic and carcinogenic in the endometrium. It can induce experimental tumours by both hormonal and DNA-damaging mechanisms, but its carcinogenic mode of action in human endometrium remains unclear. methods: We investigated whether an epigenetic mechanism, involving promoter hypermethylation of the gene for the DNA repair enzyme MGMT (O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase), was associated with K-RAS, TP53 and PTEN mutations in endometrial tumours from women treated with tamoxifen (TAM, n=30) or unexposed to the drug (EC, n=38). results: There were significant (P<0.05) differences in tumour grade between the TAM and EC groups, with more favourable morphology in the latter. K-RAS mutations, predominantly G>A, occurred in small numbers in both groups. TP53 mutations were of mainly A>G, C>T and indel modifications in both groups, but more frequent in TAM cases. PTEN mutations dominated in EC tumours and were of the type that has large impact on protein function, such as indel or nonsense mutations. These observations alongside the mutational spectrum in PTEN suggest that the malignancies arise from different backgrounds, hence pointing to an effect of tamoxifen. Both groups displayed MGMT promoter hypermethylation. This coincided with mutations more frequently in the TAM (78%) than in the EC (50%) group, even though there were significantly (P<0.05) fewer mutations and methylations in TAM cases. conclusions: Although the difference in coincidence did not reach significance with the current sample size, the findings suggest that epigenetic processes may play a role in the way tamoxifen induces endometrial cancer.