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Oncogene. 2001 Apr 19;20(17):2171-7.

p14ARF homozygous deletion or MDM2 overexpression in Burkitt lymphoma lines carrying wild type p53.

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Karolinska Institute, Department of Oncology-Pathology, Cancer Center Karolinska (CCK), Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.


The hallmark of Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a constitutively activated c-myc gene that drives tumor cell growth. A majority of BL-derived cell lines also carry mutant p53. In addition, the p16INK4a promoter is hypermethylated in most BL biopsies and BL cell lines, leading to silencing of this gene. Activation of c-myc and/or cell cycle dysregulation can induce ARF expression and p53-dependent apoptosis. We therefore investigated the p14ARF-MDM2-p53 pathway in BL cell lines. p14ARF was expressed and localized to nucleoli in all BL carrying mutant p53. Three out of seven BL carrying wt p53 had a homozygous deletion of the CDKN2A locus that encodes both p14ARF and p16INK4a. Three BL carrying wild type p53 retained the CDKN2A locus and overexpressed MDM2. DNA sequencing revealed a point mutation in CDKN2A exon 2 in one of these BL, Seraphine. However, this point mutation did not affect p14ARF's nucleolar localization or ability to induce p53. The Bmi-1 protein that negatively regulates the p14ARF promoter and co-operates with c-myc in tumorigenesis was expressed at low to moderate levels in all BL analysed. Our results indicate that inactivation of the ARF-MDM2-p53 pathway is an essential step during the development of Burkitt lymphoma, presumably as a mechanism to escape c-myc induced apoptosis.

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