The DNA repair protein, O6-methylguanine DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) prevents mutations and cell death that result from aberrant alkylation of DNA. The polymorphic variants Leu84Phe, Ile143Val, and Lys178Arg are frequent in the human population. We review here studies of these and other MGMT polymorphisms and their association with risk for lung, breast, colorectal and endometrial cancer with a consideration of gene-environment interactions. In addition, we review studies of the effects of polymorphic variation on alkyltransferase activity and expression. It is formally possible that polymorphic variation could modify functions of MGMT other than its alkyltransferase activity. While it was previously reported that an alkylated form of MGMT modifies Estrogen Receptor alpha activity, from our studies we conclude that this regulation is not a major function of MGMT. Overall, the effects of polymorphic variation on protein function are subtle, and further investigation is required to provide a comprehensive mechanism that explains the observed associations of these variants with risk for cancer.
- O-methylguanine DNA-methyltransferase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology