dUTP nucleotidohydrolase isoform expression in normal and neoplastic tissues: association with survival and response to 5-fluorouracil in colorectal cancer

R D Ladner, F J Lynch, S Groshen, Y P Xiong, A Sherrod, S J Caradonna, J Stoehlmacher, H J Lenz

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Abstract

Aberrant dUTP metabolism plays a significant role in the underlying molecular mechanisms of cell killing mediated by inhibitors of thymidylate biosynthesis. dUTP nucleotidohydrolase (dUTPase) is the key regulator of dUTP pools, and significant evidence exists suggesting that the expression of this enzyme may be an important determinant of cytotoxicity mediated by inhibitors of thymidylate synthase (TS). In this study, we have determined the expression patterns of dUTPase in normal and neoplastic tissues and examined the association between dUTPase expression and response to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy and overall survival in colorectal cancer. Immunohistochemistry was performed on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections using a monoclonal antibody (MAb), DUT415, that cross-reacts with both nuclear and mitochondrial isoforms of human dUTPase. Nuclear and cytoplasmic staining was observed in both normal and neoplastic tissues. In normal tissues, nuclear dUTPase staining was observed exclusively in replicating cell types. This observation is in agreement with cell culture studies where expression of the nuclear isoform (DUT-N) is proliferation dependent In contrast, cytoplasmic expression of dUTPase does not correlate with proliferation status and was observed in tissues rich in mitochondria. Consistent with this observation, cell culture studies reveal that the mitochondrial isoform (DUT-M) is expressed constitutively, independent of cell cycle status. These data suggest that in normal tissues, nuclear staining with the DUT415 antibody represents the DUT-N isoform, whereas cytoplasmic staining represents the DUT-M isoform. In colon cancer tumor specimens, expression of dUTPase was shown to be highly variable in both amount and intracellular localization. Patterns of dUTPase protein expression observed included exclusive nuclear, exclusive cytoplasmic, and combined nuclear and cytoplasmic staining. Thus, immunohistochemical detection of dUTPase in colon cancers provides distinct intracellular phenotypes of expression that may be of significant prognostic value. To examine the association between dUTPase expression and response to 5-FU-based chemotherapy and overall survival, we initiated a retrospective study including tumor specimens from 20 patients who had received protracted infusion of 5-FU and leucovorin for treatment of metastatic colon cancer. Positive nuclear staining was found in 8 patients, whereas 12 lacked nuclear expression. Of the patients lacking nuclear dUTPase expression, 6 responded to 5-FU-based chemotherapy, 4 had stable disease, and 2 had progressive disease. Of the patients presenting positive nuclear dUTPase expression, 0 responded to chemotherapy, 1 had stable disease, and 7 had progressive disease (P = 0.005). The median survival for patients with tumors lacking nuclear staining was 8.5 months and 6.9 months for patients with tumors demonstrating positive nuclear dUTPase expression (P = 0.09). Time to progression was significantly longer for patients with tumors lacking nuclear staining (P = 0.017). Variable cytoplasmic dUTPase expression was observed in these tumors; however, there was no apparent association with clinical response or survival in this limited study. Nuclear dUTPase staining within these tumors was also associated with TS gene expression (P = 0.06). This study demonstrates that low intratumoral levels of nuclear dUTPase protein expression is associated with response to 5-FU-based chemotherapy, greater time to progression, and greater overall survival in colorectal cancer. Conversely, high levels of nuclear dUTPase protein expression predict for tumor resistance to chemotherapy, shorter time to progression, and shorter overall survival. This report represents the first clinical study implicating dUTPase overexpression as a mechanism of resistance to TS inhibitor-based chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3493-503
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Volume60
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2000

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colon
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • Colorectal Neoplasms
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Isoenzymes
  • Lymphocytes
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pyrophosphatases
  • Reference Values
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • United States
  • Journal Article

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