A molecular and immunohistochemical study of the MDM2 protein isoforms and p53 gene product in bronchogenic carcinoma

J Pathol. 1996 Oct;180(2):129-37. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199610)180:2<129::AID-PATH646>3.0.CO;2-8.


Forty-one bronchogenic carcinomas were investigated for expression of MDM2 protein isoforms and their relationship to p53 protein levels and p53 gene alterations using molecular and immunohistochemical techniques. The findings were correlated with the pathological features of the carcinomas. MDM2 protein was overexpressed in 26 cases (63 percent). Western blot analysis with two monoclonal antibodies, 1B10 and IF2, revealed three MDM2 protein isoforms, p90, p57 and p76/74. p90 and p57 are capable of interacting with p53 protein, while p76/74 is not. Various patterns of MDM2 isoforms were seen. Although no correlation between the patterns and pathological features was observed, lymph node metastases were more frequent in the cases with MDM2 overexpression (P < 0.005). In 3 out of 17 specimens of normal lung tissue examined, there was a low level of expression of p90. Molecular analysis revealed that MDM2 overexpression was a consequence of increased transcription rather than MDM2 gene amplification. p53 protein was overexpressed in 21 cases (51 percent) and p53 gene alterations (mutations + allelic deletions) were detected in 23 patients (56 percent). A high degree of concordance (76 percent) between p53 mutations and p53 staining was noticed (P < 10(-5)). p53 gene alterations were significantly associated with lymph node disease (P < 0.01). MDM2 and p53 proteins were simultaneously detected in 21 cases (51 percent), of which 17 (42 percent) showed p53 and MDM2 overexpression. The latter group was positively correlated with p53 mutations (P < 0.05). A strong correlation between MDM2/p53 co-expression and lymph node metastases was observed (P < 0.001). The findings suggest that MDM2 overexpression is a common event in bronchogenic carcinoma. The selective expression of some MDM2 isoforms in neoplastic tissue and not in the surrounding normal areas underscores the pathological role of the various MDM2 products. Finally, the coexistence of MDM2 protein(s) and p53 aberrations (mutations and/or overexpression) in a subset of lung carcinomas may be indicative of a 'gain of function' phenotype, with more aggressive characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Northern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / pathology
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • MDM2 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2