TP53 and mutations in human cancer.
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TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer, with a predominance of missense mutations scattered over 200 codons. In many cancers, specific mutation patterns can be identified, which are shaped by site-specific mutagenesis and by biological selection. In tobacco-related cancers (lung, head and neck), organ-specific patterns are observed, with many mutations compatible with the ones experimentally induced by tobacco carcinogens. In several other cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), mutation patterns show geographic variations between regions of high and low incidence, suggesting a role for region-specific risk factors. HCC from high-incidence regions showing also a high prevalence of a specific Ser-249 TP53 mutation is one of the most striking examples of a mutagen fingerprint. All such assessments are useful to generate clues on the mutagenic mechanisms involved in human cancer. Moreover, it has been shown that DNA retrieved from plasma can be successfully used for detection of TP53 mutations, which gives hope for earlier more accurate detection of human cancers.
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