Aims—To determine whether mutant p53 alleles harboured by malignant tumours of the oral cavity were also present in previous premalignant lesions at the same site.
Methods—Paraffin embedded tumour specimens along with their premalignant counterparts were analysed for p53 alterations using immunohistochemistry, microdissection, polymerase chain reaction amplification, and DNA sequencing.
Results—Malignant lesions from five of eight patients showed overexpression of p53 protein by immunohistochemistry. Upon DNA sequencing, two of these five specimens had p53 mutations. Of the five patients whose cancers showed p53 overexpression by immunohistochemistry, three had previous premalignant lesions that also had immunohistochemically detectable p53 protein. However, DNA sequencing showed that none of these three had mutations in the p53 gene. The remaining five premalignant lesions had no immunohistochemically detectable p53 protein.
Conclusions—Some premalignant lesions have increased p53 protein which can be detected by staining with antibody to p53. This staining is not caused by mutations in p53 that are found in subsequent tumours at the same site.
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