[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mean terminal restriction fragment (TRF) lengths in white blood cells (WBCs) have been previously found to be associated with breast cancer. To assess whether this marker could be used as a test for breast cancer susceptibility in women, TRF length was measured in 72 treated female breast cancer patients and 1696 unaffected female controls between the ages of 45 and 77 from the Twin Research Unit at St Thomas' Hospital, as well as 140 newly diagnosed breast cancer cases and 108 mammographically screened unaffected controls from Guy's Hospital. Mean TRF was also tested for correlation with chromosome radiosensitivity and apoptotic response in the Guy's Hospital patients. After adjusting for age, smoking and body mass index, there was no significant difference in TRF lengths between the treated breast cancer patients and unaffected controls (P=0.71). A positive correlation between age-adjusted apoptotic response and mean TRF in newly diagnosed untreated breast cancer patients (P=0.008) was identified but no significant difference in TRF lengths between breast cancer patients and unaffected controls was detected (P=0.53). This suggests that TRF lengths in WBC, is not a marker of breast cancer susceptibility and does not vary significantly between affected women before and after treatment.
British Journal of Cancer 01/2008; 97(12):1696-700. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is conflicting evidence as to whether individuals who are heterozygous for germ-line BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have an altered phenotypic cellular response to irradiation. To investigate this, chromosome breakage and apoptotic response were measured after irradiation in peripheral blood lymphocytes from 26 BRCA1 and 18 BRCA2 mutation carriers without diagnosed breast cancer, and 38 unaffected age, ethnically and sex-matched controls. To assess the role of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in homologous recombination, an S phase enrichment chromosome breakage assay was used. BrdUrd incorporation studies allowed verification of the correct experimental settings. We found that BRCA1 mutation carriers without cancer had increased chromosome breaks as well as breaks and gaps per cell post irradiation using the classical G2 assay (p = 0.01 and 0.004, respectively) and the S phase enrichment assay (p = 0.01 and 0.01, respectively) compared to age-matched unaffected controls. BRCA2 mutation carriers without cancer had increased breaks as well as breaks and gaps per cell post irradiation using the S phase enrichment assay (p = 0.045 and 0.012, respectively). No difference was detected using the G2 assay (p = 0.88 and 0.40 respectively). BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers had normal cell cycle kinetics and apoptotic response to irradiation compared to age-matched controls. Our results show a demonstrable impairment in irradiation induced DNA repair in women with heterozygous germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer.
International Journal of Cancer 11/2007; 121(7):1631-6. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reports of differential mutagen sensitivity conferred by a defect in the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway are inconsistent in their conclusions. Previous studies have investigated cells established from immortalised human colorectal tumour lines or cells from animal models.
We examined primary human MSH2-deficient neonatal cells, bearing a biallelic truncating mutation in MSH2, for viability and chromosomal damage after exposure to DNA-damaging agents.
MSH2-deficient cells exhibit no response to interstrand DNA cross-linking agents but do show reduced viability in response to irradiation. They also show increased chromosome damage and exhibit altered RAD51 foci kinetics after irradiation exposure, indicating defective homologous recombinational repair.
The cellular features and sensitivity of MSH2-deficient primary human cells are broadly in agreement with observations of primary murine cells lacking the same gene. The data therefore support the view that the murine model recapitulates early features of MMR deficiency in humans, and implies that the variable data reported for MMR-deficient immortalised human cells may be due to further genetic or epigenetic lesions. We suggest caution in the use of radiotherapy for treatment of malignancies in individuals with functional loss of MSH2.
Journal of Medical Genetics 09/2007; 44(8):516-20. · 5.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Individuals who have been treated for breast cancer have been reported to have increased lymphocyte chromosomal sensitivity to ionizing radiation and a significantly lower apoptotic response to irradiation compared to controls. We set out to test these findings using a substantial number of cases sampled before treatment (which could alter the parameters measured), compared to age-matched controls with normal mammograms.
We used the G2 chromosome breakage, and apoptotic response assays of peripheral blood lymphocytes to ionizing radiation to compare 211 unselected newly diagnosed and untreated breast cancer patients, with 170 age, sex and ethnically matched controls.
We found no significant differences between breast cancer patients and their matched controls in the G2 assay or apoptotic response. However, there was some evidence that both cases and controls with a strong family history of breast cancer had higher radiosensitivity than those without.
This is the largest and best controlled study of its kind, but it has not replicated previous reports of differences between chromosome breakage or apoptotic response in breast cancer cases vs. controls. However there was a suggestion of increased radiosensitivity in patients with a strong family history, which may indicate a heritable cancer susceptibility trait, warranting further study.
International Journal of Radiation Biology 02/2007; 83(1):1-12. · 1.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is a physiological form of cell death important in normal processes such as morphogenesis and the functioning of the immune system. In addition, defects in the apoptotic process play a major role in a number of important areas of disease, such as autoimmune diseases and cancer. DNA-damage-induced apoptosis plays a vital role in the maintenance of genomic stability by the removal of damaged cells. Previous studies of the apoptotic response (AR) to radiation-induced DNA damage of lymphoid cells from individuals carrying germline TP53 mutations have demonstrated a defective AR compared with normal controls. We have also previously demonstrated that AR is reduced as individuals age. Results from the current study on 108 twins aged 18-80 years confirm these earlier findings that the AR of lymphoid cells to DNA damage is significantly reduced with increasing age. In addition this twin study shows, for the first time, that DNA-damage-induced AR has a strong degree of heritability of 81% (95% confidence interval 67-89%). The vital role of DNA-damage-induced apoptosis in maintaining genetic stability, its relationship with age and its strong heritability underline the importance of this area of biology and suggest areas for further study.
British Journal of Cancer 09/2006; 95(4):520-4. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from individuals carrying a germline TP53 mutation show a dramatically reduced apoptotic response to radiation. As part of a study of this phenomenon, we also investigated apoptotic response in a series of breast cancer patients lacking TP53 mutations and in a control group of individuals without cancer. There was a significant reduction in mean apoptotic response with increasing age in all groups. These findings are consistent with a number of studies in rodents, which have demonstrated a reduction in DNA damage-induced apoptosis with increasing age. In addition, after adjusting for age, breast cancer patients showed significantly reduced apoptotic responses compared with normal controls (P=0.002). The odds ratio for breast cancer in women with an apoptotic response of <35%, compared with women with a response of >49%, was 6.42 (95% CI 1.68-24.6). The data further support the hypothesis that a reduction in apoptotic response to DNA damage with increasing age may play a significant role in the age-related increase in cancer.
British Journal of Cancer 02/2003; 88(4):487-90. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This report describes an individual with a rare choroid plexus papilloma in adulthood (age 29) after earlier having an osteosarcoma (age 22). The results from this study, and others, suggest that it may be advisable to consider the possibility of a germline p53 mutation in adults presenting with choroid plexus tumours. In the current study automated DNA sequencing of genomic DNA detected a novel germline 7 base pair insertion in exon 5 of the p53 gene in this patient. The alteration in frame would produce amino acid substitutions beginning with alanine to glycine at position 161 and a stop codon at position 182 in the mutated protein. Surprisingly two assays of p53 function gave apparently wild-type results on peripheral blood lymphocytes from this individual. These results led us to carry out more detailed functional tests on the mutant protein. The mutant allele was expressed either at very low levels or not at all in phytohaemagglutinin stimulated lymphocytes. Further, the mutant protein was completely non-functional in terms of its ability to transactivate a series of p53-responsive genes (p21(WAF1), bax, PIG3), to transrepress a target gene and to inhibit colony growth in transfected Saos-2 cells. However, surprisingly, data from irradiated peripheral blood lymphocytes and transfected Saos-2 cells, suggested that this truncated, mutant protein retains significant ability to induce apoptosis.
British Journal of Cancer 06/2002; 86(10):1592-6. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability to predict how long a patient diagnosed with breast cancer is likely to survive is still imprecise, despite numerous studies which have identified potential prognostic markers. The "established" markers such as nodal status, tumour size, and histological grade have been used for many years and certainly provide some degree of accuracy upon which treatment can be based. However, women with similar prognostic features can vary significantly in their outcome and very few of the newly identified markers provide information that is sufficiently useful to warrant the time and expense spent on their evaluation. In a cohort of 145 women, an assessment has been made of whether knowledge of the proliferative activity of grade II infiltrating ductal breast carcinomas can improve the accuracy of predicting clinical outcome for individual patients. Use of the mitotic count (MC), which was assessed as part of the grading system, enabled patients to be stratified into "good" and "bad" prognostic groups. The measurement of S-phase fraction using flow cytometry gave a similar result, but has the disadvantage that the technique requires specialized equipment. The evaluation of Ki-67 expression using immunohistochemistry was of no additional prognostic value in this defined group. It is proposed that MC, used once to establish grade, could be used again amongst the grade II tumours to improve the accuracy of prognosis and thus influence treatment strategies with minimal additional effort or expense.
The Journal of Pathology 04/2002; 196(3):275-9. · 7.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tumour suppressor gene p53 is the gene most often reported to be mutated in clinical cancers with something like half of all tumours harbouring mutations. Further, many studies have suggested that p53 mutations have prognostic importance and sometimes are a significant factor in determining the response of tumours to therapy. The value of knowing the p53 status of individual tumours will increase if currently researched strategies aimed at developing p53-based treatment protocols come to fruition. There are quite a number of techniques used to detect p53 defects in both tumours and in the germline of cancer-prone families, although some of these methods are indirect and each has certain drawbacks. In this brief review we will discuss the value of two assays of p53 function as a means of detecting and partly characterizing p53 mutations. The two assays are the apoptotic assay, which measures the response of peripheral blood lymphocytes to radiation-induced DNA damage and the FASAY, a yeast based assay which assesses the ability of a given p53 protein to transactivate p53 target genes. Both of these assays are rapid, yielding results within 5 days. Further, they not only offer the possibility of detecting p53 mutations but also of characterizing a given mutation in terms of two of p53's most important functions, namely the induction of apoptosis and the transactivation of target genes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this investigation was to examine the ability of the yeast-based functional assay, the functional analysis for the separation of alleles in yeast (FASAY), to detect p53 mutations in breast cancers when compared with immunohistochemistry and automated sequencing of the whole p53 gene (exons 1-11). To achieve this, all three methods were carried out on a cohort of aggressive breast tumors. In those tumors, in which the FASAY analysis indicated the presence of a mutation, cDNA was extracted from red yeast colonies and was sequenced to identify the base change in the p53 gene. The FASAY detected all 24 mutations found in the series of 48 tumors, whereas initial automated sequencing of genomic DNA detected 18/24 mutations. A second round of automated sequencing carried out using an independent source of genomic DNA detected mutations in 3 of the 6 tumors that originally appeared to lack a mutation in genomic DNA. All but 1 of the mutations originally missed by sequencing of genomic DNA were point mutations. Five mutations in this series (21%) were outside the commonly investigated exons 5-8, reinforcing the need to extend sequencing beyond this region. Of 24 tumors, 14 had strong immunohistochemical staining, and all 14 had p53 mutations; the majority of mutations missed by immunohistochemistry produced a truncated protein. Strong staining was not seen in tumors lacking a p53 mutation. The FASAY proved to be a rapid, reliable, and effective method for identifying those breast tumors harboring p53 mutations.
Journal of Molecular Diagnostics 09/2000; 2(3):139-44. · 3.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have tested two rapid assays of p53 function, namely the apoptotic assay and the FASAY as means of detecting germline p53 mutations in members of Li-Fraumeni and Li-Fraumeni-like families. Results of the functional assays have been compared with direct sequencing of all 11 exons of the p53 gene. The results show good agreement between the two functional assays and between them and sequencing. No false-positives or negatives were seen with either functional assay although the apoptotic assay gave one borderline result for an individual without a mutation. As an initial screen the apoptotic assay is not only rapid but inexpensive and very simple to perform. It would be expected to detect any germline defect that leads to loss of p53 function. The apoptotic assay could be ideal as a means of prescreening large numbers of samples and identifying those that require further investigation. The FASAY detects mutations in exons 4-10, is rapid and distinguishes between functionally important and silent mutations.
British Journal of Cancer 04/2000; 82(6):1145-8. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the case history of a woman with a germ line mutation in the TP53 gene who developed 17 separate primary tumours. The incidence of new tumours rose steeply after adjuvant tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer and adjuvant vaginal vault radiotherapy for endometrial cancer. This increase could be due to cumulative genetic damage from environmental agents and the fact that the patient lived to the relatively late age of 60 years, or to a high inherent deleterious somatic mutation rate, which could represent the inability of cells from patients with TP53 mutations to repair therapy-induced genetic damage.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Parameters that allow prediction of the disease course in colorectal cancer would aid the development of improved treatment strategies. For this reason, we evaluated the prognostic value of flow cytometric DNA ploidy and S-phase fraction (SPF) and P-glycoprotein (Pgp) expression in this type of tumor.
The prognostic significance of DNA ploidy, SPF, and Pgp expression on paraffin-embedded sections from 107 patients with colorectal carcinoma was determined. The mean follow-up was 36.6 months (range = 3-72 months). DNA ploidy and SPF were evaluated by flow cytometry and Pgp by immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibody C219. The Cox regression model was used to adjust for several clinical and pathologic covariates.
Of the 107 carcinomas examined, 44 (41.1%) were classified as DNA diploid and 63 (58.9%) as DNA aneuploid. DNA ploidy pattern was significantly related to tumor site (P = 0.010), tumor stage (P = 0.016), and vascular invasion (P = 0.015) but not to other clinicopathologic variables. Patients with DNA diploid tumors showed a better survival rate than did those with aneuploid tumors. After stage IV disease was excluded, patients with diploid tumors also presented a better disease-free and overall survival than did patients with aneuploid tumors. Mean SPF of the whole series was 13.5% (median = 11.3%, range = 1.4%-29.9%). Aneuploid tumors had a higher median SPF than did diploid tumors (17 vs. 6.2; P = 0.0001). SPF was only related significantly with tumor location (P = 0.026). In the multivariate analysis, SPF was a significant independent prognostic factor for overall survival (P = 0.01). When stage IV was excluded, SPF was also an independent prognostic variable for both disease-free (P = 0. 02) and overall (P = 0.01) survival. Of 107 tumors, 61 (57%) were positive for Pgp expression, but no relation was found between this and other clinicopathologic parameters. Pgp expression had no influence on survival.
Our results suggest that flow cytometric DNA ploidy and SPF are significant and independent prognostic factors in patients with colorectal carcinoma, whereas Pgp expression is not.
Journal of Surgical Oncology 12/1999; 72(3):167-74. · 2.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Radiation-induced G1 arrest was studied in four classes of early passage skin fibroblasts comprising 12 normals, 12 heterozygous (mut/wt) TP53 mutation-carriers, two homozygous (mut/-) TP53 mutation-carriers and 16 strains from nine Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Li-Fraumeni-like families in which no TP53 mutation has been found, despite sequencing of all exons, exon-intron boundaries, 3' and 5' untranslated regions and promoter regions. In an assay of p53 allelic expression in yeast, cDNAs from these non-mutation strains behaved as wild-type p53. Using two different assays, we found G1 arrest was reduced in heterozygous strains with mis-sense mutations and one truncation mutation, when compared to the range established for the normal cells. Heterozygous strains with mutations at splice sites behaved like normal cells, whilst homozygous (mut/-) strains showed either extremely reduced, or no, arrest. Strains from all nine non-mutation families gave responses within the normal range. Exceptions to the previously reported inverse correlation between G1 arrest and clonogenic radiation resistance were observed, indicating that these phenotypes are not strictly interdependent.
British Journal of Cancer 05/1999; 79(11-12):1657-64. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reports on the p53-related cell cycle and apoptotic responses of EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines to DNA damage have led to some confusion. This may be due to differences in the nature of the specific p53 mutations under examination, but it can also be partly attributed to methodological and analytical problems (e.g. the inappropriate use of static DNA histograms for cell cycle analysis). Taking seven lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from both normal individuals and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome/Li-Fraumeni-Like (LFS/LFL) patients of differing p53 status, we completed a detailed study of radiation-induced cell cycle perturbations. Using BrdUrd pulse labelling and flow cytometry it was found that, regardless of p53 status, the cells did not arrest in G1 despite all of the lines showing p53 upregulation 3 hours postirradiation. The irradiated cells did, however, show a general slowing both in S-phase entry from G1 and in movement through S-phase. These facts would not have been apparent from the analysis of static DNA histograms. The problems with the use of static methods to assess changes in the dynamics of cell cycle progression apply not only to studies involving EBV-transformed cell lines, but also to a wide range of investigations into the molecular control of cell proliferation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: p53 is a tumour suppressor gene which functions as a transcription factor to upregulate genes for growth arrest and apoptosis following DNA damage. p53 mutations are associated with Li-Fraumeni and Li-Fraumeni like syndromes. Recently mutations of the oligomerization domain have been isolated from an LFS and an LFL family affecting respectively codon 344 (Leu to Pro) and 337 (Arg to Cys). The present study was designed to determine the affect of these mutations on the function of p53 protein. p53 344 Leu to Pro existed only in a monomeric form and could not bind to DNA. It was inactive at inducing apoptosis, transactivating luciferase from a bax promoter and inhibiting cell growth. In contrast, p53 337 Arg to Cys could form tetramers and could bind to DNA. However, p53 337 Arg to Cys was not fully active and could only induce apoptosis, transactivate luciferase from a bax promoter and inhibit cell growth with approximately 60% of the ability of wild-type p53. Both mutant proteins had reduced ability to bind to MDM2, p53 337 Arg to Cys being more reduced than p53 344 Leu to Pro. These results indicate that point mutations in the oligomerization domain can disrupt p53 function. In addition, the value of LFS and LFL families for the further understanding of the biological and biochemical properties of p53 is demonstrated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report an extensive Li-Fraumeni-like family in which there is an unusual spectrum of tumours at relatively late onset. A germline TP53 splice donor mutation in exon 4 is present in all affected family members available for testing. The mutation abolishes correct splicing of intron 4 and techniques of RT-PCR have identified three different aberrant transcripts from the mutant TP53 allele. Using the yeast functional assay to analyse transcripts in cells from a number of family members with the mutant allele, TP53 appears wild-type. Functional studies have been carried out on cells from patients with and without cancer who carry the germline mutation, and on cells from unaffected individuals from the same family who do not carry the mutation. Using a number of functional endpoints known to distinguish between cells carrying mutant or wild-type TP53 alleles, we were unable to discriminate normal (wt/wt) from heterozygous (wt/mut) cells by lymphocyte apoptosis and fibroblast survival following low dose rate ionising radiation exposure. However germline mutation carriers show increased sensitivity to radiation-induced chromosome damage in the G2 phase of the cell cycle, and decreased transient and permanent G1 arrest. These studies demonstrate the importance of fully characterising the effects of TP53 germline mutations, and may explain some of the phenotypic features of this family.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous investigations of a Li - Fraumeni like family (Barnes et al., 1992) demonstrated that both the proband and her mother had elevated p53 protein levels in both tumour tissue and normal tissue at sites distant from the tumour, although no mutation was found in the p53 gene. In the present study two recently described functional assays for p53, an apoptotic assay and the functional assay for the separation of alleles in yeast (FASAY), have been employed to study the functional activity of p53 from this patient. The results of the apoptotic assay demonstrated that this patient had a p53 functional defect and the FASAY result suggested that this defect was in fact a germline mutation of the p53 gene. A point mutation of codon 337, which results in an amino acid substitution of a cysteine for an arginine, was demonstrated initially in cDNA and was confirmed by sequencing of genomic DNA. This is an unusual mutation as it is in the oligomerisation domain of p53, in contrast to the majority of p53 mutations which are in the core DNA binding domain. This mutation results in a protein which still retains partial transactivational activity in the FASAY. The mutation of codon 337 is only the second reported case of a germline missense mutation occurring in the oligomerisation domain of p53.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wild-type p53 is a tumor suppressor gene that plays a central role in maintaining the genetic integrity of the cell by preventing cells with damaged DNA from further proliferation. Mutation and deletion of p53 are the most common genetic defects seen in clinical cancer. About 40% of breast carcinomas show high levels of stabilized, often mutant, p53 protein in their cells as detected by immunohistochemistry. p53-related defects in tumor cells correlate with a poor prognosis and may also indicate a poor response to chemotherapy. In experimental systems, the p53 status of cells is important in determining their sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs. Cells with functional p53 die by apoptosis, whilst similar cells lacking p53 function continue to proliferate, perpetuating potentially oncogenic mutations. Not only may p53 status be a marker of the biological aggressiveness of individual tumors and of their likely response to therapy, but restoration of normal p53 function is itself already a goal of cancer therapy.
Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia 05/1996; 1(2):163-75. · 7.52 Impact Factor