- ABSTRACT—Aims/Background: Microsatellite instability was sought in 10 human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) to determine whether defective DNA mismatch repair might be implicated in the multiple genetic alterations observed in the p53 tumor suppressor gene in some of these patients' tumors. Methods: Genomic DNA from HCCs and adjacent non-tumorous livers was subjected to PCR with primers for nine microsatellites, and PCR products were resolved in a denaturing gel. Microsatellite instability was defined as the presence of band shifts or additional bands for at least two microsatellite sequences in an HCC compared to the nontumorous liver tissue from the same patient. Results: Microsatellite instability was detected in four of ten HCCs. Three of these four HCCs did not have p53 exon mutations. However, one HCC had microsatellite instability as well as multiple p53 exon mutations and multiple intron alterations. Four other patients with multiple p53 intron alterations in HCC (compared to their own nontumorous liver), three of whom also had a mutation in the exons, had no microsatellite instability. Conclusions: Defective DNA mismatch repair, as indicated by microsatellite instability, might have played a role in hepatocarcinogenesis in four of the ten patients, but in general it was not associated with p53 alterations. In one of the ten patients, defective DNA mismatch repair might have been the cause of multiple mutations in both the coding and intron sequences of the p53 gene.