Role of germ line p53 mutations in aneuploidy and immortalization of dermal fibroblasts from Li-Fraumeni cancer patients

Farideh Zamaniyan-Bischoff, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Pedigree analysis of certain families with a high incidence of tumors suggests a genetic predisposition to cancer. Li and Fraumeni described a familial cancer syndrome that is characterized by multiple primary tumors, early age of onset, and marked variation in tumor type. Williams and Strong (1) demonstrated that at least 7% of childhood soft tissue sarcoma patients had family histories that is readily explained by a highly penetrant autosomal dominant gene. To characterize the mechanism for genetic predisposition to many tumor types in these families, we have studied genetic alterations in fibroblasts, a target tissue from patients with the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS). We have observed spontaneous changes in initially normal dermal fibroblasts from LFS patients as they are cultured in vitro. The cells acquire an altered morphology, chromosomal anomalies, and anchorage-independent growth. This aberrant behavior of fibroblasts from LFS patients had never been observed in fibroblasts from normal donors. In addition to these phenotypic alterations, patient fibroblasts spontaneously immortalize by 50 population doublings (pd) in culture; unlike controls that remain normal and senesce by 30-35 (2). At 50 pd, immortal fibroblasts from two patients were found to be susceptible to tumorigenic transformation by an activated T24 H-ras oncogene (3). Approximately 80% of the oncogene expressing transfectants were capable of forming tumors in nude mice within 2-3 weeks. p53 has been previously associated with immortalization of cells in culture and cooperation with ras in transfection assays. Therefore, patients' fibroblast and lymphocyte derived DNA was tested for point mutations in p53. It was shown that LFS patients inherited certain point mutations in one of the two p53 alleles (4). Further studies on the above LFS immortal fibroblasts have demonstrated loss of the remaining p53 allele concomitant with escape from senescence. While the loss of the second allele correlates with immortalization it is not sufficient to transformation by an activated H-ras or N-ras oncogene. These immortal fibroblasts are resistant to tumorigenic transformation by v-abl, v-src, c-neu or v-mos oncogene; implying that additional steps are required in the tumorigenic progression of LFS patients' fibroblasts. References. (1) Williams et al., J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 79:1213, 1987. (2) Bischoff et al., Cancer Res. 50:7979, 1990. (3) Bischoff et al., Oncogene 6:183, 1991. (4) Malkin et al., Science 250:1233, 1990.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Zamaniyan-Bischoff, Farideh, "Role of germ line p53 mutations in aneuploidy and immortalization of dermal fibroblasts from Li-Fraumeni cancer patients" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9202585.