The Association and Significance of p53 in Gynecologic Cancers: The Potential of Targeted Therapy

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Nov 4;20(21):5482. doi: 10.3390/ijms20215482.


Dysfunction of p53 is observed in the many malignant tumors. In cervical cancer, p53 is inactivated by degradation through the complex with human papilloma virus (HPV) oncoprotein E6 and E6-associated protein (E6AP), an E3 ubiquitin protein ligase. In endometrial cancer, overexpression of p53 in immunohistochemistry is a significant prognostic factor. A discrepancy between p53 overexpression and TP53 mutations is observed in endometrioid endometrial cancer, indicating that the accumulation of p53 protein can be explained by not only gene mutations but also dysregulation of the factors such as ERβ and MDM2. Furthermore, the double-positive expression of immunoreactive estrogen receptor (ER) β and p53 proteins is closely associated with the incidence of metastasis and/or recurrence. High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC) arises from secretary cells in the fallopian tube. The secretary cell outgrowth (SCOUT) with TP53 mutations progresses to HGSC via the p53 signature, serous intraepithelial lesion (STIL), and serous intraepithelial carcinoma (STIC), indicating that TP53 mutation is associated with carcinogenesis of HGSC. Clinical application targeting p53 has been approved for some malignant tumors. Gene therapy by the adenovirus-mediated p53 gene transfer system is performed for head and neck cancer. A clinical phase III trial using MDM2/X inhibitors, idasanutlin (RG7388) combined with cytarabine, is being performed involving relapse/refractory acute myeloid leukemia patients. The use of adenoviruses as live vectors which encode wild-type p53 has given promising results in cervical cancer patients.

Keywords: HPV; STIC; TP53 mutation; cervical cancer; endometrial cancer; gene therapy; ovarian cancer; p53 overexpression; p53 signature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Uterine Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53