Around 60% of oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) have been shown to harbour p53 mutations, and other studies have demonstrated mutant p53 genes in normal and dysplastic squamous epithelium adjacent to these SCCs. In line with these earlier studies we show here that DOK, a keratinocyte cell line derived from a dysplasia, displays elevated levels of p53 protein and harbours a 12 bp in-frame deletion of the p53 gene spanning codons 188-191. In contrast, the coding region of the p53 gene was normal in a series of six benign recurrent laryngeal papillomas and a series of four premalignant oral erythroplakia biopsies and their cell cultures. All but one of these lesions were free of malignancy at the time of biopsy, in contrast to the premalignant lesions studied by previous investigators, but keratinocytes cultured from these lesions all displayed a partially transformed phenotype that was less pronounced than that of DOK. Since three out of four of the erythroplakia patients developed SCC within 1 year of biopsy, these lesions were by definition premalignant. The availability of strains of partially transformed keratinocytes from premalignant erythroplakias which possess normal p53 genes should enable us to test the role of mutant p53 in the progression of erythroplakia to SCC. The premalignant tissues and cultures were also tested for the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is known to inactivate p53 function in some cases. Only the benign papillomas were shown to contain high levels of either HPV 6 or HPV 11 E6 DNA, but not both, and none of the samples contained detectable levels of HPV 16, HPV 18 or HPV 33 E6 DNA or L1 DNA of several other HPV types. There was therefore no evidence to suggest that p53 was being inactivated by a highly oncogenic HPV in these samples.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research