p73 is structurally and functionally related to p53 and is possibly a tumor suppressor gene. Using 15 surgically resected frozen esophageal specimens containing both squamous cell carcinomas (ESCC) and neighboring normal epithelia, we studied p73 gene alterations and mRNA expression. Loss of heterozygosity of the p73 loci was found in nine of 14 informative cases (64%). A polymorphism at codon 173 (Thr) of p73 was identified (eight samples had ACC and seven had ACT), but mutation was not detected in tumor samples. Nine of the 15 ESCC samples (60%) displayed significantly elevated expression of p73 over the neighboring normal epithelium; of these nine samples, four displayed loss of imprinting (LOI) and one switched the expressed allele. Hypermethylation of exon 1 of the p73 gene was not detected, using the bisulfite modification method, in normal or tumor samples. Twelve of the 15 (80%) ESCC samples contained p53 defects, including missense mutation, non-frameshift small deletion or insertion, non-detectable transcripts and protein accumulation. The ESCC samples with p53 defects were significantly correlated with those which had elevated expression of p73 (Fisher's exact test, P < 0.05). The results suggest that increased expression of p73, including that by LOI, could be a partial compensatory mechanism for defective p53.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research