Background: The p53 tumor suppressor protein is important in cell-cycle control, apoptosis, and DNA repair. Mutations in p53 have been associated with inherited cancer susceptibility. Because there is a difference in the risk of lung cancer among different ethnic groups, we examined associations between ethnicity and three polymorphisms in p53 (one exonic and two intronic) and haplotypes for the three loci and risk of lung cancer. We also examined the functionality of the p53 variants in apoptosis and DNA repair.
Methods: In a case-control study, we frequency matched (by age, sex, and ethnicity) 635 lung cancer case patients and 635 control subjects. p53 genotypes and haplotypes at the three polymorphic sites were determined by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of lymphocyte DNA. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between genotype or haplotype and lung cancer risk were determined by logistic regression analysis. Apoptosis and DNA repair capacity were measured in 22 lymphoblastoid cell lines to determine the functional effects of the polymorphisms. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: Genotype and haplotype frequency distributions were strongly dependent on ethnicity; variant allele frequencies were highest in African-Americans (29.1%) and lowest in Mexican-Americans (12.2%). Each of the three polymorphisms was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer among all ethnic groups. Moreover, for all three polymorphisms, increased variant allele copy number was associated with increased risk of lung cancer. Similarly, the variant haplotypes were also associated with an increased risk for lung cancer. Lymphoblastoid cell lines with all wild-type alleles at the three loci had statistically significantly higher apoptotic indices (13.66%, 95% CI = 8.61% to 18.71%) and DNA repair capacity (27.63%, 95% CI = 21.72% to 33.53%) than cell lines with at least one variant allele at all three loci (3.50%, 95% CI = 1.08% to 5.91%; and 17.48%, 95% CI = 7.99% to 26.96%, respectively).
Conclusions: p53 polymorphisms may be associated with increased lung cancer risk and may affect p53 function.