Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Jeffrey N. Myers, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Michelle C. Barton, PhD

Committee Member

Gary E. Gallick, PhD

Committee Member

Walter N. Hittelman, PhD

Committee Member

Jonathan C. Trent, MD, PhD


Currently, there are no molecular biomarkers that guide treatment decisions for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Several retrospective studies have evaluated TP53 in HNSCC, and results have suggested that specific mutations are associated with poor outcome. However, there exists heterogeneity among these studies in the site and stage of disease of the patients reviewed, the treatments rendered, and methods of evaluating TP53 mutation. Thus, it remains unclear as to which patients and in which clinical settings TP53 mutation is most useful in predicting treatment failure.

In the current study, we reviewed the records of a cohort of patients with advanced, resectable HNSCC who received surgery and post-operative radiation (PORT) and had DNA isolated from fresh tumor tissue obtained at the time of surgery. TP53 mutations were identified using Sanger sequencing of exons 2-11 and the associated splice regions of the TP53 gene. We have found that the group of patients with either non-disruptive or disruptive TP53 mutations had decreased overall survival, disease-free survival, and an increased rate of distant metastasis. When examined as an independent factor, disruptive mutation was strongly associated with the development of distant metastasis.

As a second aim of this project, we performed a pilot study examining the utility of the AmpliChip® p53 test as a practical method for TP53 sequencing in the clinical setting. AmpliChip® testing and Sanger sequencing was performed on a separate cohort of patients with HNSCC. Our study demonstrated the ablity of the AmpliChip® to call TP53 mutation from a single formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded slide. The results from AmpliChip® testing were identical with the Sanger method in 11 of 19 cases, with a higher rate of mutation calls using the AmpliChip® test.

TP53 mutation is a potential prognostic biomarker among patients with advanced, resectable HNSCC treated with surgery and PORT. Whether this subgroup of patients could benefit from the addition of concurrent or induction chemotherapy remains to be evaluated in prospective clinical trials. Our pilot study of the p53 AmpliChip® suggests this could be a practical and reliable method of TP53 analysis in the clinical setting.


TP53, Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Biomarker



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