Mutation in p53 (TP53) remains one of the most commonly described genetic events in human neoplasia. The occurrence of mutations is somewhat less common in sporadic breast carcinomas than in other cancers, with an overall frequency of about 20%. There is, however, evidence that p53 is mutated at a significantly higher frequency in breast carcinomas arising in carriers of germ-line BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Some of the p53 mutants identified in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers are either previously undescribed or infrequently reported in sporadic human cancers. Functional characterization of such mutants in various systems has revealed that they frequently possess properties not commonly associated with those occurring in sporadic cases: they retain apoptosis-inducing, transactivating, and growth-inhibitory activities similar to the wild-type protein, yet are compromised for transformation suppression and also possess an independent transforming phenotype. The occurrence of such mutants in familial breast cancer implies the operation of distinct selective pressures during tumorigenesis in BRCA-associated breast cancers.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.