Thymidylate synthase expression in colon carcinomas with microsatellite instability

Frank A. Sinicrope, Rafaela L. Rego, Kevin C. Halling, Nathan R. Foster, Daniel J. Sargent, Betsy La Plant, Amy J. French, Carmen J. Allegra, John A. Laurie, Richard M. Goldberg, Thomas E. Witzig, Stephen N. Thibodeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: Colon cancer cells with high-frequency microsatellite instability (MSI-H) display resistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) that can be reversed by restoring DNA mismatch repair (MMR) proficiency. Given that thymidylate synthase (TS) is inhibited by 5-FU, we studied the relationship between MSI and TS expression, and the prognostic effect of these and other markers (i.e., p53 and 17p allelic imbalance). Experimental Design: Dukes' stage B2 and C colon carcinomas (n = 320) from participants in 5-FU-based adjuvant therapy trials were analyzed for MSI and 17p allelic imbalance. Expression of MMR (hMLH1, hMSH2), TS, and p53 proteins were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Correlations between markers and associations with overall survival were determined. Results: Of 320 cancers studied, 60 (19%) were MSI-H. TS expression variables were similar in MSI-H and microsatellite stable/low-frequency MSI (MSS/MSI-L) cancers, and unrelated to MMR proteins. MSI-H tumors had lower stage (P = 0.0007), fewer metastatic lymph nodes (P = 0.004), and improved overall survival (P = 0.01). Loss of MMR proteins was also associated with better overall survival (P = 0.006). None of theTS variables were prognostic. Histologic grade (P = 0.0008) and nodal status (P = 0.0002) were associated with overall survival, in contrast to 17p allelic imbalance or p53. Only MSI status or loss of MMR proteins, histologic grade, and tumor stage were independent markers for overall survival. Conclusions: MSI-H tumors show earlier stage at presentation and better stage-adjusted survival rates. MSI status and TS expression were unrelated and TS was not prognostic, suggesting that TS levels cannot explain therapeutic resistance to 5-FU reported in MSI-H colon cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2738-2744
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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