Send to

Choose Destination
Mutat Res. 2006 Aug 30;600(1-2):102-12. Epub 2006 May 2.

Silent mutations in the gene encoding the p53 protein are preferentially located in conserved amino acid positions and splicing enhancers.

Author information

Sección Biomatemática, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Iguá 4225, Montevideo, Uruguay.


The last release of p53 somatic mutation database contains more than 20,000 of mutation among which 951 are silent (synonymous). This striking amount of silent mutations is much more than what would be expected if synonymous mutations were effectively neutral. The prevalent explanation to reconcile this vast amount of silent mutations with the neutral expectation is that they are just the subproduct of the hypermutability process that affect cancer cells. Some evidences have been presented in this direction, and the explanation has been taken as granted. Assuming that silent mutations are effectively neutral has major implication in the investigation of mutational processes that affect the gene encoding the p53 protein, since on the basis of this assumption they are considered the Null hypothesis, for instance for measuring and comparing among tissues the endogenous mutability. From this it follows that determining whether silent mutations in the p53 gene, and in all disease genes in general, are or not basically mutational noise, is of paramount importance. In this paper we readdress this topic by testing whether there is a relationship between the spatial distribution of silent mutations inside the p53 gene and functional significant features of the gene. For this purpose we divided the population of silent mutations in three groups: those that are found accompanied by other mutations (doublets and multiplest), those that were isolated as singlets, but the same mutation was also isolated as being part of a doublet (or multiplet) in another individual. And the last group is composed by those that were always found as singlets and never as being part of a doublet or a multiplet. This last group was expected to be enriched in functionally significant silent mutations. We found that all silent mutations, but particularly those of the last group, are preferentially located in conserved amino acid positions (i.e. functionally important amino acids) and also tend to be located inside suspected splicing enhancers. Noteworthy, this association remains even after eliminating the possible contribution of mutation hotspots. Besides, we present additional evidence in the direction that these putative splicing enhancers are real functional enhancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center