Indexed on: 22 Apr '96Published on: 22 Apr '96Published in: International Journal of Cancer
HPV infections have been previously observed in oral cancers, and inactivation of the p53 gene has been shown to be one of the most common genetic alterations in human tumors. We examined 179 oral specimens from 70 individuals with histologic findings of either normal mucosa (n = 6) or oral disease that ranged from mild dysplasia to invasive squamous-cell carcinoma (n = 64) to determine the occurrence of both HPV infection and p53 mutations and their relationship with several clinical factors. HPV infection was detected by PCR amplification of viral DNA, and the presence of p53 mutations was assayed using the single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP)-PCR technique. HPV infection was found in 31% of individuals with oral disease and was not seen in healthy individuals. Mutations in exons 5, 6, 7 or 8 of the p53 gene were detected in 37.5% of patients with oral lesions and in a biopsy from 1 healthy individual who was a heavy smoker. Approximately one-third of lesions classified as pre-malignant (dysplasia and carcinoma in situ) and 42% of invasive carcinomas contained p53 mutations. The majority of these mutations were G:T transversions located within exons 7 and 8. Tumor tissues from 6 patients with oral lesions were found both to be HPV-16-positive and to contain p53 mutations; of these, 4 were poorly differentiated carcinomas that were diagnosed as late-stage disease. In this study, p53 mutations were detected in the early stages of cancer development.