Heterogeneity of O(6)-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase activity in colorectal cancer: implications for treatment

N.P. Lees, K.L. Harrison, E Hill, C.N. Hall, Andrew Povey, G.P. Margison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    OBJECTIVES: MGMT (O(6)-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase) reverses the carcinogenic, mutagenic and cytotoxic effects of alkylating agents. Measurement of MGMT activity in tumours might thus be of use in selecting those patients with colorectal cancer who may be sensitive to adjuvant alkylating agent therapy. The aim of this study was to assess whether measurement of MGMT activity in a single tumour biopsy is representative of the whole tumour. METHODS: Multiple symmetrically spaced biopsies were taken from colorectal cancers obtained from 9 patients. MGMT activity was then measured in cell-free extracts by quantifying the transfer of [(3)H]methyl group from calf thymus DNA methylated in vitro with N-nitroso-N-[(3)H]-methylurea to the MGMT protein. RESULTS: MGMT activity was detected in all tumour samples with the activity ranging between 3.6 and 36.2 fmol/microg DNA and 202-1,986 fmol/mg protein. Heterogeneity in MGMT activity (ratio of maximum/minimum MGMT levels per tumour) varied between 1.3 and 5.4. CONCLUSIONS: Measurement of MGMT activity in a single biopsy is not necessarily indicative of the level throughout the tumour. The response of colorectal cancers to alkylating agent treatment is likely to be non-uniform both within the tumour and between patients
    Original languageEnglish
    Volume63, 4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Adenocarcinoma
    • Aged
    • Aged,80 and over
    • Alkylating Agents
    • Antineoplastic Agents,Alkylating
    • Biopsy
    • Colorectal Neoplasms
    • Dna
    • drug therapy
    • enzymology
    • Female
    • Human
    • Male
    • metabolism
    • methods
    • Middle Age
    • O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase
    • pathology
    • Research
    • Support,Non-U.S.Gov't
    • therapeutic use
    • therapy


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