Selection of cells for resistance to cisplatin, a well-recognized mutagen, could result in mutations in genes involved in DNA mismatch repair and thereby to resistance to DNA-alkylating agents. Parental cells of the human ovarian adenocarcinoma cell line 2008 expressed hMLH1 when analyzed with immunoblot. One subline selected for resistance to cisplatin (2008/A) expressed no hMLH1, whereas another (2008/C13*5.25) expressed parental levels. Microsatellite instability was readily demonstrated in 2008/A cells but not in 2008 and in 2008/C13*5.25 cells. In addition, the 2008/A cells were 2-fold resistant to methyl-nitro-nitrosoguanidine and had a 65-fold elevated mutation rate at the HPRT locus as compared to 2008 cells, both of which are consistent with the loss of DNA mismatch repair in these cells. To determine whether the loss of DNA mismatch repair itself contributes to cisplatin resistance, studies were carried out in isogenic pairs of cell lines proficient or defective in this function. HCT116, a human colon cancer cell line deficient in hMLH1 function, was 2-fold resistant to cisplatin when compared to a subline complemented with chromosome 3 and expressing hMLH1. Similarly, the human endometrial cancer cell line HEC59, which expresses no hMSH2, was 2-fold resistant to cisplatin when compared to a subline complemented with chromosome 2 that expresses hMSH2. Therefore, the selection of cells for resistance to cisplatin can result in the loss of DNA mismatch repair, and loss of DNA mismatch repair in turn contributes to resistance to cisplatin.

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This work was supported in part by Grant DHP 26 from the American Cancer Society, Grant CTR4154 from the Council for Tobacco Research, grants from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and from the Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate, and by a Fellowship Award from the Schweizerische Stiftung für medizinisch-biologische Stipendien to S. A. This work was conducted in part by the Clayton Foundation for Research-California Division. S. B. H., B. K-H., and R. D. C. are Clayton Foundation Investigators.

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