Post-thymic T cell lymphomas frequently overexpress p53 protein but infrequently exhibit p53 gene mutations
Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
We recently demonstrated that only one of 36 T-cell neoplasms contained p53 gene mutations. Although p53 gene mutations are known to result in overexpression of the p53 gene product, we also recently discovered that p53 protein overexpression does not correlate with p53 gene mutations, but does correlate with proliferation (r = 0.92), in anaplastic large cell lymphoma. In view of these findings, we investigated 34 non-human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) related postthymic T-cell lymphomas immunohistochemically for p53 protein, using monoclonal antibody 1801, and for proliferation, using monoclonal antibody Ki-67, and quantitated the results with the CAS-200 computerized image analysis system. We evaluated the presence of mutations in conserved exons 5 to 9 of the p53 gene using single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and DNA sequencing. p53 mutations were detected in three of 34 cases, including two that contained deletions. p53 protein overexpression was detected in 17 of 34 cases, including the three mutated cases, with reactivities ranging from 10% to 48%. However, many cases in which a structural alteration could not be detected demonstrated levels of p53 protein expression comparable to those cases that were mutated. Correlation of p53 protein expression and proliferation, as assessed by Ki-67 expression, in this group of lymphomas was poor (r = 0.34). Whether alternative mechanisms of p53 protein inactivation are causing phenotypic overexpression of the p53 protein in these malignant lymphomas is unknown, although preliminary studies do not support a major role for such mechanisms. Therefore, the etiology and the significance of p53 protein overexpression in the cases that lack a demonstrable mutation is unclear. Nevertheless, as in anaplastic large cell lymphoma, overexpression of the p53 gene product is not a reliable predictor of the presence of mutations in conserved portions of the p53 gene in non-HTLV-I associated post-thymic T-cell lymphoma.