Relation Between p53 Overexpression and Established Prognostic Factors in Breast Cancer

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The nuclear phosphoprotein p53 is expressed in all normal cells and appears to function in cell cycle regulation. Abnormally high levels of the protein are found in many different types of cancer. Inbreast carcinoma overexpression of p53 is associated with point mutations within highly conserved regions of the p53 gene. These altered genes encode stable p53 proteins that can be detected by standard immunohistochemical techniques unable to detect rapidly degraded wild-type protein. The level of p53 expression in 184 primary breast cancer specimens was assessed by immunohistochemical analysis and related to the following established prognostic factors for breast cancer: age, stage, metastatic involvement, concentration of estrogen and progesterone receptors, proliferative index, and HER-2/neu overexpression. Fifty (27%) of these primary breast cancer specimens had widespread overexpression of p53. Highly significant associations were found between p53 overexpression and late stage, metastatic spread, and low concentration of progesterone receptors. The presence of elevated levels of mutant p53 may itself be a prognosticfactor in human breast cancer and activation of this oncogene may be important in the ability of a tumor to metastasize.

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