Frequent mutation of the E2F-4 cell cycle gene in primary human gastrointestinal tumors

Rhonda F. Souza, Jing Yin, Kara N. Smolinski, Tong Tong Zou, Suna Wang, Ying Qiang Shi, Mun Gan Rhyu, John Cottrell, John M. Abraham, Kelli Biden, Lisa Simms, Barbara Leggett, G. Steven Bova, Tom Frank, Steven M. Powell, Haruhiko Sugimura, Joanne Young, Noam Harpaz, Kenji Shimizu, Nagahide MatsubaraStephen J. Meltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


The E2F group of transcription factors transactivates genes that promote progression through the G1-S transition of the cell cycle. Members of the retinoblastoma (Rb) family of proteins bind to E2Fs and inhibit this function. E2F-4, one example of the E2F group, function as an oncogene when transfected into nontransformed cells in vitro. On the other hand, mice that are homozygously lacking a normal E2F-1 gene develop cancers, consistent with a tumor-suppressive role for this gene. The exact function of E2Fs has thus been unclear; moreover, direct involvement of this gene in primary human tumorigenesis has not been shown. We, therefore, investigated mutation within the E2F-4 coding region in 16 primary gastric adenocarcinomas, 12 ulcerative colitis-associated neoplasms, 46 sporadic colorectal carcinomas, 9 endometrial cancers, and 3 prostatic carcinomas. We limited our investigation to the serine repeat within E2F-4, reasoning that this tract might be altered in genetically unstable tumors (replication error-positive, or RER+). All tumors were RER+, with the exception of a control group of 15 RER - sporadic colorectal carcinomas. PCR with incorporation of [32P]dCTP was performed using primers flanking the serine trinucleotide (AGC) repeat. Twenty-two of 59 gastrointestinal tumors (37%) contained E2F-4 mutations; these comprised 5 of 16 gastric tumors (31%), 4 of 12 ulcerative colitis-associated neoplasms (33%, including 1 dysplastic lesion), and 13 of 31 sporadic colorectal cancers (42%). No mutation was present in any of the endometrial, prostate, or RER- colorectal tumors. Of note, homozygous mutations occurred in three cases, and two of seven informative patients showed loss of one E2F-4 allele in their tumors. Furthermore, the RER+ sporadic colorectal tumors were evaluated at trinucleotide repeats within the genes for N-cadherin and B- catenin; no tumors demonstrated mutation of these genes. These data suggest that E2F-4 is a target of defective DNA repair in these tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2350-2353
Number of pages4
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes


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