Background: The molecular basis of colorectal dysplasia and carcinoma arising in ulcerative colitis is poorly understood. Loss of heterozygosity involving the tumor suppressor gene p53 occurs frequently in neoplastic ulcerative colitis lesions. Point mutation affecting p53 is associated with loss of heterozygosity in other cancers. Therefore, it was determined whether p53 point mutation occurs in ulcerative colitis-associated neoplasia. Methods: Single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis, DNA sequencing, and loss of heterozygosity studies were performed on 45 patients with ulcerative colitis-associated dysplasia and carcinoma. Results: Point mutations were detected in 26 lesions from 20 patients, including 18 carcinomas, 6 dysplasia-associated masses, 1 flat dysplasia, and 1 lymph node metastasis. In two cases, identical p53 mutations were observed in both carcinoma and adjacent dysplasia. Missense mutations causing amino acid substitutions as well as nonsense mutations resulting in premature stop codons were seen. Tandem mutations, in which more than 1 sequence alteration occurred on the same allele of p53, were also detected. Point mutation was accompanied by loss of the other p53 allele in 8 of 10 patients informative for both loss of heterozygosity and mutation assays. Conclusions: These findings suggest that inactivation of p53 by mutation and loss of heterozygosity is a common mechanism of malignant transformation in ulcerative colitis. They also imply that in contrast to sporadic colorectal carcinoma, ulcerative colitis-associated neoplastic progression may involve p53 inactivation at relatively earlynoninvasive stages.
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