The influence of polymorphism in the glutathione S-transferase, GSTM3 gene on susceptibility to cutaneous basal cell carcinoma (BCC) has been investigated. We have reported previously two GSTM3 alleles, GSTM3*A and GSTM3*B, distinguished by a recognition motif for the YY1 transcription factor in GSTM3*B. In this study, immunohistochemistry was used to identify GSTM3 expression in the epidermis of skin samples from 11 controls and 9 patients with BCC. A PCR method was used to identify GSTM3*A and GSTM3*B and thereby the GSTM3 AA, GSTM3 AB, and GSTM3 BB genotypes in 300 controls and 286 Caucasians with 1–35 primary BCCs. Genotypes at GSTM1, GSTT1, and the cytochrome P450 CYP1A1 and CYP2D6 loci were also determined. Frequencies of GSTM3, GSTM1, GSTT1, CYP2D6, and CYP1A1 genotypes in the cases and controls were not different. Dividing the BCC cases into groups of 92 patients with 1 lesion and 194 patients with 2–35 lesions showed that the frequencies of GSTM3 BB (2.6%) and GSTM1 A/B (1.3%) in the group with 2–35 tumors were almost significantly lower than in the group with 1 lesion (7.6%, exact P = 0.0601, x21 = 3.390; 6.5%, exact P = 0.055, x21 = 4.946, respectively). Within the cases with 2–35 tumors, a Poisson regression model was used to identify genotypes, characteristics such as skin type, and interactions between genotypes and characteristics associated with increasing numbers of tumors. This showed, after correction for male gender and age, that GSTM3 AA was not associated with risk of increased numbers of tumors, although in combination with skin type 1, GSTM1 null, and CYP1A1 m1m1, the genotype did confer increased risk (P < 0.001, rate ratio, 2.058; P < 0.001, rate ratio, 1.606; P < 0.001, rate ratio, 1.470, respectively). The data suggest that, like other allelic GST, GSTM3 influences cancer risk. As GSTM3 AA was associated with increased tumor numbers, it appears that YY1 acts as an activator of the recognition motif in GSTM3*B.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Cancer Research Campaign (Project Grant SP2207/0201).

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