The p53 Tumor Suppressor Gene Frequently Is Altered in Gynecologic Cancers

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Abstract

Mutation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, often accompanied by overexpression of mutant p53 protein, is the most frequent molecular genetic event described thus far in human cancers.In adenocarcinomas of the ovary and endometrium, p53 overexpression is seen in approximately 10% to 15% of early and 40% to 50% of advanced cancers. Similar to many other types of human cancers, ovarian and endometrial cancers that overexpress p53 protein contain mutations in conserved regions of the p53 gene. These mutations are predominantly transitions, which suggests that they arise spontaneously rather than being caused by carcinogen exposure. Alteration of the p53 gene does not appear to be a feature of endometrial hyperplasias or benign or borderline ovarian tumors. Although mutation and overexpression of p53 rarely occur in cancers of the cervix, vulva, and vagina, it has been shown that human papillomavirus E6 oncoproteins bind to and inactivate p53 protein. Studies of the p53 gene have begun to provide insight into the molecular pathogenesis of gynecologic cancers. (AM J OBSTET GYNECOL 1994;170:246-52.)

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