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K-ras mutations appear in the premalignant phase of both microsatellite stable and unstable endometrial carcinogenesis.
  1. G L Mutter,
  2. H Wada,
  3. W C Faquin,
  4. T Enomoto
  1. Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


    AIMS: Sequential events of endometrial tumorigenesis can be studied by comparison of genetic lesions seen in normal, premalignant, and malignant tissues. The distribution of k-ras mutations in microsatellite stable and unstable premalignant lesions was studied to determine whether this gene is implicated in both tumorigenic pathways. METHODS: K-ras mutations were analysed by polymerase chain reaction-single strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) and direct sequencing in matched endometrial normal, premalignant (atypical hyperplasias), and adenocarcinoma tissues from individual patients. Identification of precancers solely by their appearance as atypical endometrial hyperplasias is very subjective; therefore, in addition to histopathological assessment, we performed molecular testing (non-random X inactivation or clonal altered microsatellites) for an expected feature of precancers--that is, monoclonality. RESULTS: Equivalent K-ras mutation frequencies were seen in microsatellite stable (six of 33) and unstable (three of 23) cancers. In both types, K-ras mutation in monoclonal precancers usually corresponded to a change from normal to an equivocal (two of 12) or hyperplastic (10 of 12) histology. Divergent K-ras genotypes among multiple neoplastic tissues of individual patients (two of six patients) are exceptions explained either by multicentric premalignant disease, or acquisition of K-ras mutation late in neoplastic progression. CONCLUSIONS: K-ras mutation occurs in both premalignant microsatellite stable and unstable endometrial neoplasia, sometimes before acquisition of features readily diagnostic as atypical endometrial hyperplasia.

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