The human homologue of the murine double minute 2 gene (MDM2), a p53-binding protein which may act as a regulator of p53 protein function, has recently been cloned. Initial studies of this gene in a variety of human tumors have shown frequent gene amplification in most types of sarcomas, including osteosarcomas. Amplification of the MDM2 gene may produce a functional inactivation of the p53 protein. To examine possible clinical or pathological correlates of MDM2 gene amplification in osteosarcoma, we studied 28 specimens on 26 patients with high grade osteosarcoma (16 primary, 11 metastatic, and 1 local recurrence) for MDM2 gene amplification by Southern blot analysis, using two MDM2 complementary DNA probes isolated by polymerase chain reaction. Four specimens (14%) showed amplification, including 3 metastases and 1 local recurrence. None of the primary osteosarcoma specimens had detectable MDM2 gene amplification. None of the specimens tested showed MDM2 gene rearrangement. In the present series, MDM2 gene amplification was detected significantly more frequently in metastatic or recurrent osteosarcomas than it was in primary osteosarcomas (P = 0.02). Our data suggest that MDM2 gene amplification may be associated with tumor progression and metastasis in osteosarcoma. Further investigation is warranted on the potential clinicopathological correlates of MDM2 gene amplification in osteosarcoma.

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Supported in part by proceeds from the 1991 New York City Marathon.

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