Mutations of the p53 tumor suppressor gene occur frequently in a variety of adult-onset tumors, including colon, breast, lung, and brain, yet are infrequently identified in pediatric malignancies. Wilms' tumor, a common solid tumor of childhood, can be associated with mutations of the WT1 gene. Alterations of the p53 gene have been shown to modulate the ability of WT1 to transactivate its targets. Although positive p53 immunostaining has been demonstrated in Wilms' tumors, the correlation to p53 gene mutations is not clear. We examined Wilms' tumor samples for p53 mutations utilizing polymerase chain reaction-single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and single-strand DNA sequencing. Mutations in the coding region of the p53 gene were demonstrated in 2 of 21 (9.5%) Wilms' tumors. Each mutation yielded a substitution of amino acid residues. One mutation was located in exon 6 and the other in exon 7. Both mutations were found in tumors from patients with advanced stage disease. Focal anaplasia was demonstrated in one of these tumors. Our data suggest that although p53 mutations occur infrequently in Wilms' tumor, they may be associated with advanced disease.

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This work was supported by the Medical Research Council of Canada.

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