Somatic alterations of the c-Ha-ras gene were examined in 21 Japanese patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Restriction endonuclease analysis by double digestion with MspI and HpaII revealed that DNAs from two of 21 hepatocellular carcinoma tissues were affected by nucleotide substitution at the twelfth amino acid coding sequence of the c-Ha-ras gene. DNAs from cirrhotic noncancerous liver tissue, but not leukocytes, of one of these patients possessed the mutation, whereas DNAs from noncirrhotic liver tissue and leukocytes of the other patient did not. In one of the nine patients harboring heterozygosity for c-Ha-ras—related BamHI-fragments, the loss of one allele was demonstrated as a somatic change not only in DNA from the tumor tissue but also in DNA from the cirrhotic nontumorous tissue. In two of the 19 patients comparatively examined for digestion patterns of c-Ha-ras locus with HpaII and MspI, extensive methylation was observed as a somatic modification in both DNAs from the tumor and the cirrhotic nontumorous tissues. These results thus indicate that the genetic lesions affecting the c-Ha-ras gene do occur in human hepatocellular carcinoma and probably serve as one of the multiple steps in the process of hepatic carcinogenesis. (HEPATOLOGY 1991; 13:31–37).
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