Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gene expression profile and genomic alterations in colonic tumours induced by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) in rats

Angelo Pietro Femia1, Cristina Luceri1, Simona Toti1, Augusto Giannini2, Piero Dolara1 and Giovanna Caderni1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, University of Florence, 6 Viale Pieraccini, 50139 Florence, Italy

2 Department of Pathology, General Hospital of Prato-Azienda Sanitaria Locale 4, Prato, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:194  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-194

Published: 11 May 2010



Azoxymethane (AOM) or 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon carcinogenesis in rats shares many phenotypical similarities with human sporadic colon cancer and is a reliable model for identifying chemopreventive agents. Genetic mutations relevant to human colon cancer have been described in this model, but comprehensive gene expression and genomic analysis have not been reported so far. Therefore, we applied genome-wide technologies to study variations in gene expression and genomic alterations in DMH-induced colon cancer in F344 rats.


For gene expression analysis, 9 tumours (TUM) and their paired normal mucosa (NM) were hybridized on 4 × 44K Whole rat arrays (Agilent) and selected genes were validated by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Functional analysis on microarray data was performed by GenMAPP/MappFinder analysis. Array-comparative genomic hybridization (a-CGH) was performed on 10 paired TUM-NM samples hybridized on Rat genome arrays 2 × 105K (Agilent) and the results were analyzed by CGH Analytics (Agilent).


Microarray gene expression analysis showed that Defcr4, Igfbp5, Mmp7, Nos2, S100A8 and S100A9 were among the most up-regulated genes in tumours (Fold Change (FC) compared with NM: 183, 48, 39, 38, 36 and 32, respectively), while Slc26a3, Mptx, Retlna and Muc2 were strongly down-regulated (FC: -500; -376, -167, -79, respectively). Functional analysis showed that pathways controlling cell cycle, protein synthesis, matrix metalloproteinases, TNFα/NFkB, and inflammatory responses were up-regulated in tumours, while Krebs cycle, the electron transport chain, and fatty acid beta oxidation were down-regulated. a-CGH analysis showed that four TUM out of ten had one or two chromosomal aberrations. Importantly, one sample showed a deletion on chromosome 18 including Apc.


The results showed complex gene expression alterations in adenocarcinomas encompassing many altered pathways. While a-CGH analysis showed a low degree of genomic imbalance, it is interesting to note that one of the alterations concerned Apc, a key gene in colorectal carcinogenesis. The fact that many of the molecular alterations described in this study are documented in human colon tumours confirms the relevance of DMH-induced cancers as a powerful tool for the study of colon carcinogenesis and chemoprevention.