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Dig Dis Sci. 2008 May;53(5):1395-9. Epub 2007 Oct 13.

Expressional and mutational analysis of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 member PUMA in hepatocellular carcinomas.

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  • 1General Surgery, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.


Deregulation of apoptosis is involved in mechanisms of cancer development. PUMA is a pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family and mediates p53-dependent and -independent apoptosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether alterations of PUMA protein expression and somatic mutations of PUMA gene are characteristics of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We analyzed expression of PUMA protein in 20 HCCs using immunohistochemistry. Also, we analyzed mutation of the Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3) domain of PUMA gene, which is an important domain in apoptosis function of PUMA by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) in 69 HCCs. PUMA protein expression was detected in both HCC cells and non-tumor hepatocytes in all of the 20 HCCs. In 10 of these HCCs, cancer cells showed higher PUMA expression than non-tumor (cirrhotic) hepatocytes of the same patients; whereas in the remaining 10, cancer cells and non-tumor hepatocytes showed similar levels. Mutational analysis revealed no PUMA BH3 domain mutation in the 69 HCCs, suggesting that PUMA BH3 domain mutation is not a direct target of inactivation in hepatocellular cancer development. The increased expression of PUMA in malignant hepatocellular cells relative to that in non-tumor hepatocytes suggests that PUMA expression may play a role in HCC development.

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