Resistance to chemotherapeutic agents represents the chief cause of mortality in cancer patients with advanced disease. Chromosomal aberration and altered gene expression are the main genetic mechanisms of tumor chemoresistance. In this study, we have established an algorithm to calculate DNA copy number using the Affymetrix 10K array, and performed a genome-wide correlation analysis between DNA copy number and antitumor activity against 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based drugs (S-1, tegafur + uracil [UFT], 5′-DFUR and capecitabine) to screen for loci influencing drug resistance using 27 human cancer xenografts. A correlation analysis confirmed that the single nuceotide polymorphism (SNP) showing significant associations with drug sensitivity were concentrated in some cytogenetic regions (18p, 17p13.2, 17p12, 11q14.1, 11q11 and 11p11.12), and we identified some genes that have been indicated their relations to drug sensitivity. Among these regions, 18p11.32 at the location of the thymidylate synthase gene (TYMS) was strongly associated with resistance to 5-FU-based drugs. A change in copy number of the TYMS gene was reflected in the TYMS expression level, and showed a significant negative correlation with sensitivity against 5-FU-based drugs. These results suggest that amplification of the TYMS gene is associated with innate resistance, supporting the possibility that TYMS copy number might be a predictive marker of drug sensitivity to fluoropyrimidines. Further study is necessary to clarify the functional roles of other genes coded in significant cytogenetic regions. These promising data suggest that a comprehensive DNA copy number analysis might aid in the quest for optimal markers of drug response.
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