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ABSTRACT: The DNA damage pathway plays a central role in chemoresistance in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), as indicated by the prognostic impact of TP53 and ATM loss/mutations. We investigated the function of the p53 axis in primary CLL samples by studying p53 and p21 responses to irradiation by FACS and RT-PCR. We observed a distinct response pattern for most cases with a 17p deletion (n = 16) or a sole TP53 mutation (n = 8), but not all cases with a p53 aberration were detected based on a number of different assays used. Samples with a small clone with a TP53 mutation remained undetected in all assays. Only 1 of 123 cases showed high expression of p53, which is suggestive of p53 aberration without proof of mutation of TP53. Samples with an 11q deletion showed a heterogeneous response, with only 13 of 30 showing an abnormal response based on cutoff. Nevertheless, the overall induction of p53 and p21 was impaired, suggesting a gene-dosage effect for ATM in the 11q-deleted samples. The detectability of p53 defects is influenced by clonal heterogeneity and sample purity. Functional assays of p53 defects will detect a small number of cases not detectable by FISH or TP53 mutational analysis. The clinical utility of functional p53 testing will need to be derived from clinical trials.
Blood 02/2011; 117(5):1622-32. · 9.06 Impact Factor