To investigate the occurrence of mitochondrial genome instability in primary cervical, endometrial, ovarian, and breast carcinomas, we analyzed 12 microsatellite regions in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of tumor tissues and their matched normal controls. Four of the 12 microsatellite markers starting at nucleotide position (np) 303, 514, 956, and 16184, respectively, exhibited instability as indicated by the change in length of short base-repetitive sequences of mtDNA in cancer tissue relative to that in control normal tissue from the same patient. About 25.4% of cervical cancers, 48.4% of endometrial cancers, 21.9% of ovarian cancers, and 29.4% of breast cancers carried one or more mitochondrial microsatellite instability (mtMSI). mtMSI was frequently detected in the D-loop region but rarely occurred in the coding region. A relatively long C tract interrupted by a T residue is the mtMSI hot spot in all four types of cancer studied. Different tumors have different mtMSI profiles. In particular, the frequency of mtMSI in endometrial cancer was significantly higher than in the other three types of cancer. Furthermore, carriers of a germ-line T to C polymorphism at np 16189 could be more susceptible to breast cancer development in light of the higher frequency detected in cancer patients than in normal individuals.
- breast cancer
- gynecological cancer
- mitochondrial DNA
- mitochondrial microsatellite instability
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