TP53 mutation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and stemlike features in breast cancer subtypes

J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:254085. doi: 10.1155/2012/254085. Epub 2012 Jul 30.


Altered p53 protein is prevalently associated with the pathologic class of triple-negative breast cancers and loss of p53 function has recently been linked to the induction of an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and acquisition of stemness properties. We explored the association between TP53 mutational status and expression of some genes involved in the canonical TGF-β signaling pathway (the most potent EMT inducer) and in two early EMT associated events: loss of cell polarity and acquisition of stemness-associated features. We used a publicly accessible microarray dataset consisting of 251 p53-sequenced primary breast cancers. Statistical analysis indicated that mutant p53 tumors (especially those harboring a severe mutation) were consistent with the aggressive class of triple-negative cancers and that, differently from cell cultures, surgical tumors underexpressed some TGF-β related transcription factors known as involved in EMT (ID1, ID4, SMAD3, SMAD4, SMAD5, ZEB1). These unexpected findings suggest an interesting relationship between p53 mutation, mammary cell dedifferentiation, and the concomitant acquisition of stemlike properties (as indicated by the overexpression of PROM1 and NOTCH1 genes), which improve tumor cells aggressiveness as indicated by the overexpression of genes associated with cell proliferation (CDK4, CDK6, MKI67) and migration (CXCR4, MMP1).

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / classification*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53