To further investigate the role of p53 gene inactivation in gastric tumorigenesis, the mutational status of the p53 gene in primary human gastric cancer samples was examined. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and subsequent direct sequencing of the p53 gene from gastric cancer samples revealed frequent point mutations of the p53 gene: some of these coincided with those previously identified in gastric cancer cell lines. In addition, both allelic deletion analysis using pYNZ 22 and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis demonstrated an allelic deletion of the p53 gene in cancer tissue which contained a point mutation of the p53 gene in the remaining allele. Transfection of the wild-type or mutant p53 genes into gastric cancer cells showed that the wild-type but none of the mutated p53 genes suppressed the colony formation of gastric cancer cells. Furthermore, the incorporation of thymidine into DNA was reduced in cancer cells expressing the wild-type p53 gene. The glutathione S-transferase-wild type p53 fusion protein bound to simian virus 40 large T antigen in COS-1 cell lysate. None of the p53 fusion proteins containing mutations at codons 143, 175, 248, or 273 bound to simian virus 40 large T antigen. By contrast, two different mutant p53 fusion proteins containing mutations specifically observed in gastric cancer bound to simian virus 40 large T antigen. These results indicate that inactivation of the p53 gene through mutations and the allelic deletion may play an important role in gastric tumorigenesis. These mutations may cause a conformational change in the p53 protein resulting in the loss of the suppression by p53 of the growth of gastric cells, partly through disruption of the association of p53 protein with a cellular component.

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