p53 nuclear protein accumulation correlates with mutations in the p53 gene, tumor grade, and stage in bladder cancer

Am J Pathol. 1993 Nov;143(5):1389-97.


Seventy-three transitional cell carcinomas of the bladder were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for p53 nuclear accumulation, and the results were compared to mutations detected in the p53 gene by single strand conformational polymorphism analysis (SSCP) and DNA sequence analysis. Immunohistochemical studies were performed on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections. A highly significant association between the presence of p53 mutations and p53 nuclear reactivity as detected by immunohistochemistry was found (P = 0.0001). Of 32 tumors that demonstrated p53 mutations by SSCP, 27 (84%) showed p53 nuclear reactivity. Of the five cases that did not demonstrate p53 nuclear reactivity, four had mutations in exon 5. However, of 41 tumors with no evidence of p53 mutation by molecular analysis, 12 (29%) showed p53 immunoreactivity. This indicates that immunohistochemical methods may be more sensitive than SSCP in detecting p53 mutations or that discordant cases represent tumors with accumulation of wild type p53 protein, without mutations at the p53 locus. Of the 15 tumors that were found to have mutations at exon 8, 13 demonstrated high-intensity homogeneous p53 nuclear reactivity by immunohistochemistry, and all mutations located at codon 280 demonstrated high-intensity homogeneous immunoreactivity. However, three of three tumors with exon 6 mutations demonstrated low-level p53 immunoreactivity, and four of six tumors with mutations in exon 5 showed no detectable p53 nuclear reactivity. This indicates that the heterogeneity of immunoreactivity observed when analyzing p53 nuclear accumulation may be related to the site of the p53 gene mutation. Information on tumor grade, stage, lymph node status, disease-free interval, and overall survival were available in 54 patients who had undergone cystectomy. A significant association was observed between p53 alterations (detected by immunohistochemistry and SSCP) and histological tumor grade (P = 0.003) and stage (P = 0.01). We conclude that the immunohistochemical detection of p53 nuclear accumulation in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue is highly associated with mutations in the p53 gene; this association has now been demonstrated in a large number of tumors. The heterogeneity of p53 nuclear reactivity seems to be related to the site of mutation in the p53 gene. A small proportion of tumors with a p53 gene mutation do not demonstrate immunohistochemically detectable p53 nuclear accumulation. Furthermore, a small but substantial proportion of tumors demonstrate p53 nuclear reactivity but do not show detectable mutations in the p53 gene by SSCP. Finally, both grade and stage of bladder cancer are related to p53 alterations, detected by immunohistochemistry or molecular methods.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / pathology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Genes, p53 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53