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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Oct;81(10):3498-504.

Immunocytochemical detection of p53 in human thyroid carcinomas is associated with mutation and immortalization of cell lines.

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Department of Surgery and Pathology, University of California, San Francisco/Mount Zion 94115, USA.


Mutations in the tumor suppressor gene p53 are the most-common mutations found in human cancers. In thyroid cancers, p53 mutations generally are found only in poorly differentiated and undifferentiated tumors and in cell lines. To determine the prevalence of p53 mutations in thyroid neoplasms and thyroid cell lines, we screened 58 thyroid tissues and 3 thyroid cell lines, p53 primers bracketing exons 4, 5/6, 7, and 8 were used to amplify genomic DNA using the PCR. Mutations were screened by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and confirmed by sequencing. The two papillary thyroid cancer cell lines and the follicular thyroid carcinoma cell line (positive control) had transitions (CGT->CAT) in exon 8, codon 273, resulting in the replacement of arginine with histidine. No normal thyroid tissues or primary tumors from which the cell lines were derived demonstrated exon 8 mutations, using this technique. p53 immunocytochemistry demonstrated a progression of p53 immunopositivity between synchronous and metachronous neoplasms, paralleling the neoplastic progression from a benign adenoma to primary carcinoma, regional, and distant metastasis and ultimately, the cell lines, where intense immunopositivity is noted. In addition, fluorescence in situ hybridization, using probes specific for the p53 locus, revealed the presence of 3 homologues of p53 in the follicular cell line and 2 homologues in the papillary and Hürthle cell lines. These results suggest that a point mutation present in a small number of original tumor cells and amplification of the mutant allele may be responsible for immortalizing well-differentiated thyroid cancer cells into cell lines.

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