MDM2 protein is thought to bind to p53 tumor suppressor protein leading to inhibition of p53-mediated transactivation. Amplification of the MDM2 gene has been frequently observed in human sarcoma, and relevant overexpression of the MDM2 protein is assumed to contribute to tumor-igenesis through inactivation of the p53 function. In order to determine whether MDM2 amplification plays a role in the development of human breast cancer without genetic alteration of p53, we analyzed, MDM2 gene amplification by quantitative hybridization and genetic alteration of p53, in 32 primary tumors and 26 metastatic lymph nodes. Low grade amplification of the MDM2 gene (2-6 fold) was observed in four cases, none of which showed even subtle genetic alterations of p53 or loss of alleles on 17p. Moreover, in three of the four cases with MDM2 gene amplification, the level of gene amplification in the metastatic lymph nodes was slightly higher than that in the primary tumors. These results, taken together with previous findings, suggest that a subset of breast cancers without genetic alteration of p53 may also arise by inactivation of the p53 function through interaction with the overexpressed MDM2 protein induced by gene amplification.
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