P53 Mutations

Missense point mutations in exons 5-8 of the p53 tumor suppressor gene have been detected in 4 out of 22 (18%) papillary carcinomas developed in the patients with a history of childhood irradiation to the head and neck area (75). Several studies have reported the prevalence of p53 mutations in post-Chernobyl tumors. In one series, PCR-SSCP analysis revealed two (6%) somatic mutations, both in exon 5, in a series of 33 papillary carcinomas (72). One of those mutations was a missense mutation and another was a silent mutation, as detected by nucleotide sequencing. Other studies reported a 0-23% prevalence of mutations in the critical exons of the p53 gene in pediatric post-Chernobyl papillary carcinomas (Table 4) (73, 76, 77). Despite some variation in the results between these observations, the overall prevalence of p53 mutations in this post-Chernobyl population appears approximately 10%. This indicates that inactivation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene has only a limited role in radiation-induced thyroid carcinogenesis.

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