AIM: To assess whether p53 gene mutation is important in the pathogenesis and progression of multiple myeloma. METHODS: Thirty eight DNA samples (derived predominantly from bone marrow) obtained from 31 patients with multiple myeloma were examined for mutations in p53 exons 5-9 by polymerase chain reaction single strand conformation polymorphism. Twenty three samples were analysed at the time of diagnosis (one patient had plasma cell leukaemia), three in plateau phase, and 12 at relapse (one plasma cell leukaemia and one extramedullary relapse). RESULTS: One p53 mutation was detected in this group of patients (3.2%). This was seen in the diagnostic bone marrow sample of a 35 year old man with stage IIA disease and occurred in exon 6 as a result of a silent A to G transition at codon 213 (CGA-->CGG), a polymorphism that has been reported in about 3% of breast and lung tumours. CONCLUSIONS: p53 gene mutations are rare events in multiple myeloma and would seem to be of limited value as a prognostic factor.
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