Altered tumorigenic phenotype in mice with a hypomorphicp53 mutant allele

Geng Liu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are found in over 50% of human tumors and in the germline of Li-Fraumeni syndrome families. About 80% of these mutations are missense in nature. In order to study how p53 missense mutations affect tumorigenesis in vivo, we focused on the murine p53 arg-to-his mutation at amino acid 172, which corresponds to the human hot spot mutation at amino acid 175. The double replacement procedure was employed to introduce the p53 R172H mutation into the p53 locus of ES cells and mice were generated. An additional 1bp deletion in the intron 2 splice acceptor site was detected in the same allele in mice. We named this allele p53R172HΔg. This allele makes a small amount of full length p53 mutant protein. Spontaneous tumor formation and survival were studied in these mice. Mice heterozygous for the p53R172HΔg allele showed 50% survival at 17 months of age, similar to the p53+/− mice. Moreover, the p53R172HΔg/+ mice showed a distinct tumor spectrum: 55% sarcomas, including osteosarcoms, fibrosarcomas and angiosarcomas; 27% carcinomas, including lung adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, hepatocellular carcinomas and islet cell carcinomas; and 18% lymphomas. Compared to the p53+/− mice, there was a clear increase in the frequency of carcinoma development and a decrease in lymphoma incidence. Among the sarcomas that developed, fibrosarcomas in the skin were also more frequently observed. More importantly, osteosarcomas and carinomas that developed in the p53R172HΔg/+ mice metastasized at very high frequency (64% and 67%, respectively) compared with less than 10% in the p53+/− mice. The metastatic lesions were usually found in lung and liver, and less frequently in other tissues. The altered tumor spectrum in the mice and increased metastatic potential of the tumors suggested that the p53R172H mutation represents a gain-of-function. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from the mice homozygous and heterozygous for the p53R172HΔg allele were studied for growth characteristics, immortalization potential and genomic instability. All of the p53R172HΔg /+ MEF lines are immortalized under a 3T3 protocol while under the same protocol p53+/− MEFs are not immortalized. Karyotype analysis showed a persistent appearance of chromosome end-to-end fusion in the MEFs both homozygous and heterozygous for the p53R172HΔg allele. These observations suggest that increased genomic instability in the cells may cause the altered tumor phenotypes.

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Recommended Citation

Liu, Geng, "Altered tumorigenic phenotype in mice with a hypomorphicp53 mutant allele" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9929385.