Differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia contains Tp53 mutations and is genetically linked to vulvar squamous cell carcinoma

Mod Pathol. 2010 Mar;23(3):404-12. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2009.179. Epub 2010 Jan 8.


Differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is a unique precursor to vulvar squamous cell carcinoma that is typically HPV-negative and frequently associated with nuclear p53 staining. These features imply a mode of pathogenesis involving somatic mutations. However, the genetic relationship of differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasm and vulvar squamous cell carcinoma and the role of Tp53 mutations in this process have not been resolved. We analyzed 11 differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasms and 6 associated vulvar squamous cell carcinomas. Sections were stained for p53 and p63 and DNA from multiple epithelial sites, representing normal control tissues (n=10), differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasias (n=18), and vulvar squamous cell carcinomas (n=6), were obtained by laser capture microdissection, and sequenced for exons 2-11 of Tp53. Six of 10 cases contained at least one Tp53 mutation-positive differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia focus; 4 strongly p53 immuno-positive and 2 negative. Staining for p53 and p63 co-localized, targeting the immature epithelium, but surface epithelium was Tp53 mutation-positive. Four of five vulvar squamous cell carcinomas were Tp53 mutation-positive; two shared identical Tp53 mutation with adjacent differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia. Disparate foci of differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia often showed different mutations consistent with multiple neoplastic clones. Differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is, with few exceptions, associated with Tp53 mutations and will be p53 immunopositive when missense mutations (versus some nonsense and all deletion mutations) are present. Multiple Tp53 mutations in different sites supports the presence of multiple independent genetic events, but shared Tp53 mutations in both differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia and vulvar squamous cell carcinoma support a genetic relationship between the two. The confinement of p53 staining to immature cell nuclei is consistent with maturation-dependent degradation of mutant p53 protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma in Situ / genetics*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Microdissection
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology


  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53