Indexed on: 15 Jun '00Published on: 15 Jun '00Published in: The American Journal of Pathology
INK4a/ARF locus codes for two different proteins, p16(INK4a) and p14(ARF), involved in cell cycle regulation. p14(ARF) is considered an upstream regulator of p53 function. To determine the role of these genes in the pathogenesis of human non-Hodgkin's lymphomas we have analyzed exon 1beta, 1alpha, and 2 of the INK4a/ARF locus and p53 gene aberrations in 97 tumors previously characterized for p16(INK4a) alterations. p53 alterations were detected in four of 51 (8%) indolent lymphomas but in 15 of 46 (33%) aggressive tumors. Inactivation of p14(ARF) was always associated with p16(INK4a) alterations. Exon 1beta was concomitantly deleted with exon 1alpha and 2 in eight tumors. One additional lymphoblastic lymphoma showed deletion of exon 1alpha and 2 but retained exon 1beta. No mutations were detected in exon 1alpha and 1beta in any case. Two of the three mutations detected in exon 2 caused a nonsense mutation in the p16(INK4a) reading frame and a missense mutation in the ARF reading frame involving the nucleolar transport domain of the protein. The third mutation was a missense mutation in the p16(INK4a) reading frame, but it was outside the coding region of p14(ARF). Aggressive lymphomas with p14(ARF) inactivation and p53 wild type showed a significantly lower p53 protein expression than tumors with no alteration in any of these genes. In this series of tumors, inactivation of the INK4a/ARF locus mainly occurred in tumors with a wild-type p53 gene because only two lymphomas showed simultaneous aberrations in these genes. Tumors with concomitant alterations of p16(INK4a) and p14(ARF)/p53 genes seem to exhibit a worse clinical behavior than lymphomas with no alterations or isolated inactivation of any of these genes. These findings indicate that p14(ARF) genetic alterations occur in a subset of aggressive NHLs, but they are always associated with p16(INK4a) aberrations. Concomitant disruption of p16(INK4a) and p14(ARF)/p53 regulatory pathways may have a cooperative effect in the progression of these tumors.