Background: The INK4A tumor suppressor gene plays a crucial role in the regulation of the G1 cell cycle phase. It encodes two transcripts, p16 and p14 alternate reading frame (ARF), involved in retinoblastoma protein (pRb)- and p53- cell growth control pathways, respectively.
Methods: To define the role of gene status and molecule expression involved in the INK4A regulatory system, immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis were performed on 35 primary high grade osteosarcomas (OS).
Results: Although p16 and p14ARF proteins were found negative or weakly detectable in 60% and 57% of the cases respectively, INK4A gene analysis of exons 1alpha, 1beta and 2 did not reveal any deletion or mutation. However, methylation status of the 5'CpG promoter region, assessed by methylation-specific PCR, was found in 12 out of 21 OSs with negative or weak p16 expression. A statistical analysis based on pRb/p16 and p53/p14ARF staining status showed that pRb and p16 co-expression was inversely correlated to tumor relapse and was a marker for a more favorable prognosis. A statistically significant inverse correlation was found between wt-p53 and p14ARF expression. In the group of wt-p53 tumors, the loss of p14ARF was associated with a decreased expression of p21 protein, suggesting a down-regulation of the transcriptional activity of p53.
Conclusions: The current results suggest that, in OS, the altered expression of INK4A products plays a primary role in the deregulation of both pRb and p53 cell growth control pathways, contributing to tumor pathogenesis and development.
Copyright 2001 American Cancer Society.