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Oncogene. 1998 Mar 26;16(12):1603-10.

Overexpression of MDM2, due to enhanced translation, results in inactivation of wild-type p53 in Burkitt's lymphoma cells.

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Laboratoire de Biologie des Tumeurs Humaines, CNRS URA 1156, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.


Numerous studies have indicated that inactivation of p53 is one of the essential requirements for the unrestrained growth of tumoral cells. When the status of the p53 gene was examined in various types of lymphoid malignancies, mutations in p53 have been predominantly detected in Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells, therefore suggesting that alteration of p53 could specifically contribute to the malignant phenotype of these tumoral cells. In addition to mutations, functional inactivation of p53 can also occur through interaction of the wild-type gene product with various viral or cellular proteins. The cellular MDM2 protein, for example, is able to inhibit p53 tumor suppressor function by concealing its transactivation domain. Mdm2 gene amplification has been described in several types of sarcomas, resulting in overexpression of the MDM2 protein. In this study, we have examined the status of MDM2 and p53 in 20 BL cell lines. Four were found to contain wild-type p53 and to overexpress MDM2 protein. Within these BL cells, both molecules are physically associated since they can be co-precipitated and p53 is inactivated as cells neither arrest in G1 nor enter apoptosis following gamma-radiation. We also report that the high level of the MDM2 protein in BL cells is neither associated with an amplification of the mdm2 gene nor with an elevated level of RNA or an increased protein stability, but is rather due to an enhanced translation ability of the mdm2 RNA. These results indicate that in certain BL cells, overexpression of MDM2 protein regulated at the posttranscriptional level, induces an escape from p53-controlled cell growth.

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