Comparison of p53 gene mutation and protein overexpression in colorectal carcinomas

Br J Cancer. 1994 Oct;70(4):585-90. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1994.355.


Immunocytochemistry (ICC) has been used routinely to stain for p53 overexpression in a range of human tumours. The underlying assumption has been that positive staining indicates a mutation in the p53 coding sequence. Recently, however, discordancy has been observed and the accuracy of ICC as a marker of p53 gene mutation has been questioned. In this study of 109 colorectal adenocarcinomas, we compared ICC staining with p53 gene mutations detected by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. Concordancy between the two techniques was found in 69% of tumours. ICC-positive/SSCP-negative cases accounted for 20% of tumours and ICC-negative/SSCP-positive cases for the remaining 11%. These results caution against the assumption that p53 protein overexpression is always associated with a gene mutation. Epigenetic phenomena may account for a significant proportion of ICC-positive tumours.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Base Sequence
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, p53*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53