The tumor suppressor gene TP53 (p53) maintains genome stability. Mutation or loss of p53 is found in most cancers. Analysis of evolutionary constrains and p53 mutations reveal important sites for concomitant functional studies. In this study, phylogenetic analyses of the coding sequences of p53 from 26 mammals were carried out by applying a maximum likelihood method. The results display two branches under adaptive evolution in mammals. Moreover, each codon of p53 was analyzed by the PAML method for presence of positively selected sites. PAML identified several statistically significant amino acids that undergo positive selection. The data indicates that amino acids responsible for the core functions of p53 are highly conserved, while positively selected sites are predominantly located in the N- and C-terminus of p53. Further analysis of evolutionary pressure and mutations showed the occurrence of more frequent tumorigenic mutations in purifying sites of p53.
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