Background: The INK4a-ARF locus encodes two tumor suppressor proteins, p16(INK4a) and p14(ARF), that act through the Rb-CDK4 and p53 pathways, respectively. Data from murine models and sporadic human skin carcinomas implicate p16(INK4a) and p14(ARF) in the development of skin carcinomas. We examined the frequency of INK4a-ARF, p53, and CDK4 mutations in skin carcinomas from patients with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a rare autosomal disease that is associated with a defect in DNA repair and that predisposes patients to skin cancer.
Methods: DNA from skin cancers of 28 unrelated XP patients was screened for mutations in p53, INK4a-ARF, and CDK4 coding exons by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and automated sequencing. Data were evaluated with the use of the exact unconditional test derived from Fisher's test. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: Eight of 28 XP-associated tumors had mutations in the INK4a-ARF locus. Three XP-associated tumors had multiple mutations at this locus. In all, 13 mutations in the INK4a-ARF locus were detected in XP-associated tumors, of which seven (54%) were signature UV radiation-induced mutations, i.e., tandem CC : GG-->TT : AA transitions. p53 mutations, mostly of the type induced by UV radiation, were present in 12 tumors (43%). Statistically significant positive associations were found between the frequency of mutations in p53 and in p16(INK4a) (P =.008) and between the frequency of mutations in p53 and in p14(ARF) (P<.001). No mutations were detected within the CDK4 gene.
Conclusions: We have demonstrated for the first time the occurrence of UV radiation-induced mutations in INK4a-ARF in XP-associated skin carcinomas. The simultaneous inactivation of p53 and INK4a-ARF may be linked to the genetic instability caused by XP and could be advantageous for tumor progression.