Bleomycin is a radiomimetic antitumor agent with unique genotoxic properties. 1-nitropyrene is an environmental mutagen and carcinogen that undergoes both oxidative and reductive metabolism. In the present study, hepatocellular carcinomas were induced in male A/J mice by the intraperitoneal injection of bleomycin (120 mg/kg) followed by the intraperitoneal administration of 1-nitropyrene (total dose: 1,575 mg/kg). In order to understand the mechanism by which these two compounds induce hepatocellular carcinomas, the incidence and spectrum of mutations in the K-ras proto-oncogene in these hepatocellular carcinomas were analyzed. The hepatocellular carcinomas were induced by the administration of bleomycin and 1-nitropyrene were evaluated for point mutations in exon 1 and exon 2 of the K-ras gene by the polymerase chain reaction and a sequencing analysis. No mutation was found in the hotspots regions of the K-ras gene codon 12, 13, or 61. However, the codon 64 of the K-ras gene mutation was identified in 10 of 10 (100%) hepatocellular carcinomas. All mutations showed the same pattern, which was TAC-CAC transition. Codon 64 of the K-ras gene mutation may thus play an important role in the induction of hepatocellular carcinomas by bleomycin in the existence of 1-nitropyrene. As far as we know, this is the first report of a codon 64 mutation in the K-ras gene in a chemically induced tumor.
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