Aug 9, 2019

P53 Mutations in 10,000 Cancer Patients Shed New Light on Gene’s Function

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

HOUSTON — (July 30, 2019) One of the most extensively studied genes in cancer, TP53 is well known for its role as a tumor suppressor. It senses cellular stress or damage, and in response stops cell division or initiates cell death, thereby preventing a damaged cell from reproducing. Mutation of this gene eliminates a key cellular fail-safe mechanism and is a step leading to cancer. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have conducted the most comprehensive study of TP53 mutations to better understand the processes leading to the inactivation of this important gene. Their findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, shed light on how the gene becomes mutated and how those mutations can help predict clinical outlook.

The team, led by Dr. Larry Donehower, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, studied 10,225 patient samples from 32 different cancers, from The Cancer Genome Atlas, and compared them to another 80,000 mutations in a database collected over three decades by Dr. Thierry Soussi, professor of molecular biology at Sorbonne University. After analyzing this large data sample, they have a more thorough understanding of how the TP53 gene mutation impacts cancer.

The team found that across all cancer types studied, TP53 mutations were more frequent in patients with poorer survival rates. But they also identified a way to more accurately predict prognosis. Donehower said he identified four upregulated genes in mutant TP53 tumors, whose expression correlated to patient outcome.

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