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Br J Cancer. 1997;76(10):1361-6.

High frequency of p53 protein expression in thymic carcinoma but not in thymoma.

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Second Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, The University of Tokushima, Japan.


Thymic epithelial tumours are broadly classified into thymomas and thymic carcinomas. Although both tumours occasionally show invasive growth, they exhibit different clinical and biological findings. The oncogene and anti-oncogene in thymic epithelial tumours have not been evaluated fully. We investigated the expression of p53 protein by immunohistochemical analysis using the anti-p53 polyclonal antibody (CM-1) in 17 thymomas and 19 thymic carcinomas. We also examined p53 gene (exon 5-8) mutation in 18 thymic carcinomas by using polymerase chain reaction-single-strand conformation polymorphism methods and direct sequencing. Of the thymoma cases, only one invasive thymoma showed focal nuclear staining. Fourteen of the 19 thymic carcinomas (74%) showed nuclear staining. Point mutations of the p53 gene were recognized in only 2 of the 18 thymic carcinomas (11%). One was the mutation C to T transition in the first letter of codon 222 in exon 6, which results in the amino acid substitution from proline to serine. Another was a silent mutation. p53 protein accumulation is highly frequent in thymic carcinomas but not in thymomas, and gene mutation is uncommon in thymic carcinomas.

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