Alterations of p16-pRb pathway and chromosome locus 9p21-22 in sporadic invasive breast carcinomas

Mol Med. 1998 Dec;4(12):807-22.


The p16-pRb pathway represents a vital cell-cycle checkpoint. In the present study we investigated the alterations of this G1-phase protein pathway using immunohistochemical and molecular methods in a series of 55 breast carcinomas and correlated the findings with clinicopathological features of the patients. Furthermore, we examined its relationship with the status of the chromosomal region 9p21-22 performing a deletion map analysis because there are indications that, in addition to CDKN2 and MTS2/p15(INK4B) tumor suppressor genes (TSGs), this area harbors other TSG(s). Aberrant expression (Ab) of p16 and pRb was observed in 26 (47%) and 16 (29%) of the carcinomas, respectively. A statistical trend pointing out an inverse relationship between p16 and pRb expression was found (p = 0.079). Analysis of the region that encodes for p16 by deletion mapping, a PCR-based methylation assay and PCR-SSCP, revealed that deletions and transcriptional silencing by methylation might represent the main mechanisms of CDKN2/p16(INK4A) inactivation in breast carcinomas. The results of deletion mapping also suggest that another TSG(s) may reside at the 9p21-22 area particularly at the D9S162 loci and that co-deletion of this putative gene with CDKN2/p16(INK4A) may play a role in breast carcinogenesis. In addition, microsatellite instability (MI), a marker of replication error phenotype (RER+), was observed with a frequency of 16% in the area examined and was inversely related with loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Interestingly, most cases with MI at the region encoding for p16 were aggregated in a subgroup of breast carcinomas with no other obvious genetic and/or epigenetic CDKN2/p16(INK4A) alterations. We speculate that there is an additional mechanism of CDKN2/p16(INK4A) inactivation. The relationship of p16 protein level pRb, status, the p16-pRb combined immunoprofiles, and the microsatellite alterations detected at the 9p21-22 locus with the patients' clinicopathological parameters revealed two significant correlations: one between normal pRb expression and lymph node involvement (p = 0.0263), and the other between microsatellite alterations (LOH and or MI) and tumor size (p = 9.2 x 10(-3)). In view of the heterogenous nature of breast cancer, we suggest that in a significant proportion of breast carcinomas, deregulation of the p16-pRb pathway in association with another, as-yet unidentified, TSG(s) of the 9p21-22 region may play a role in initiating or progressing the oncogenic procedure, while in other subgroups, alternative molecules may play this role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 9*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Loss of Heterozygosity
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / genetics
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism*


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Retinoblastoma Protein