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Cancer Res. 2001 Jan 1;61(1):33-5.

Specific p53 mutations detected in plasma and tumors of hepatocellular carcinoma patients by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a common cause of cancer deaths worldwide, has several major etiological risk factors, including infection with the hepatitis viruses and exposure to aflatoxin B1. A specific missense mutation resulting from a guanine to thymine transversion at the third position of codon 249 in the p53 tumor suppressor gene has been reported in 10-70% of HCCs from areas of high dietary exposure to aflatoxin B1. Short oligonucleotide mass analysis was compared with DNA sequencing in 25 HCC samples for specific p53 mutations. Mutations were detected in 10 samples by short oligonucleotide mass analysis in agreement with DNA sequencing. Analysis of another 20 plasma and tumor pairs showed 11 tumors containing the specific mutation, and this change was detected in six of the paired plasma samples. Four of the plasma samples had detectable levels of the mutation; however, the tumors were negative, suggesting possible multiple independent HCCs. Ten plasma samples from healthy individuals were all negative. This molecular diagnostic technique has implications for prevention trials and for the early diagnosis of HCC.

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