The potentially carcinogenic effect of therapeutic irradiation has been recognized for many years. Second malignancies, usually sarcomas, are known to arise within or at the edge of radiation fields after a period of several years after the initial radiation exposure. We analyzed tumor cells derived from seven radiation-induced tumors for abnormalities in tumor suppressor genes p53 and retinoblastoma at the DNA sequence and/or protein level. p53 mutations were detected by exon-specific polymerase chain reaction amplification and single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of exons 5–8 followed by direct genomic sequencing of those tumors exhibiting a variant pattern. The p53 gene was abnormal in three of six sarcomas studied. Retinoblastoma gene analysis was performed by Western immunoblot; retinoblastoma protein was under-phosphorylated in three of seven tumors and absent in one other. In all, six of seven radiation-induced human tumors have abnormalities of one or both suppressor genes. Inactivation of tumor suppressor genes by ionizing radiation may contribute to radiation carcinogenesis.
This work was supported by NI Health Grant CA41068, the Chicago Tumor Institute, a gift from the Passis Family, and the Center for Radiation Therapy.