Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is a form of cancer occurring most commonly in males, particularly those living in some areas of Asia, Africa, and western Europe. In some of these tumors, a sequence alteration has been identified in the coding region of the TP53 gene which is known to inactivate the tumor suppressor function of its product. Using a GC clamp (i.e., a GC rich domain) denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis assay we have been able to identify sequence modifications in 27 of the 32 tumor samples analyzed (84%). Most of the mutations occur in exon 6, a region of the gene which has not previously been reported as being a hot spot for the mutations of other cancers. Twelve of the mutations reported here have not been described in other types of tumors and these consist mostly of frameshift or splice mutations.

The distribution of mutations [transitions (45%), transversions (34%), and frameshift (21%)] suggests that the etiological contribution of genotoxic factors might be complex and might associate different exogenous and endogenous mutagen exposures.

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This work was supported by the Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer, Comité du Finistère.

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