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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transdominant DeltaTAp73 isoforms are frequently up-regulated in ovarian cancer. Evidence for their role as epigenetic p53 inhibitors in vivo.

Despite strong homology, the roles of TP53 and TP73 in tumorigenesis seem to be fundamentally different. In contrast to TP53, tumor-associated overexpression of TP73 in many different cancers, combined with virtual absence of inactivating mutations and lack of a cancer phenotype in the TP73 null mouse are inconsistent with a suppressor function but instead support an oncogenic function. The discovery of NH(2)-terminally truncated p73 isoforms, collectively called DeltaTAp73, is now the focus of intense interest because they act as potent transdominant inihibitors of wild-type p53 and transactivation-competent TAp73. Therefore, establishing deregulated DeltaTAp73 expression in tumors could be the crucial link to decipher which of the two opposing roles of this bipolar gene is the biologically relevant one. This study is the largest to date and encompasses 100 ovarian carcinomas with complete expression profile of all NH(2)-terminal isoforms, discriminating between TAp73 and DeltaTAp73 (DeltaNp73, DeltaN'p73, Ex2p73, and Ex2/3p73) by isoform-specific real-time reverse transcription-PCR. We find that the set of NH(2)-terminal p73 isoforms distinguishes ovarian cancer patients from healthy controls and thus is a molecular marker for this diagnosis. Ovarian cancers strongly and almost universally overexpress DeltaN'p73 compared with normal tissues (95% of cancers). About one-third of tumors also exhibit concomitant up-regulation of the antagonistic TAp73, whereas only a small subgroup of tumors overexpress DeltaNp73. Thus, deregulation of the E2F1-responsive P1 promoter, rather than the alternate P2 promoter, is mainly responsible for the production of transdominant p53/TAp73 antagonists in ovarian cancer. Tumor stage, grade, presence of metastases, p53 status, and residual disease after resection are significant prognostic markers for overall and recurrence-free survival. A trend is found for better overall survival in patients with low expression of DeltaN'p73/DeltaNp73, compared with patients with high expression. A strong correlation between deregulated DeltaTAp73 and p53 status exists. p53 wild-type cancers exhibit significantly higher deregulation of DeltaN'p73, DeltaNp73, and Ex2/3p73 than p53 mutant cancers. This data strongly supports the hypothesis that overexpression of transdominant p73 isoforms can function as epigenetic inhibitors of p53 in vivo, thereby alleviating selection pressure for p53 mutations in tumors.[1]


  1. Transdominant DeltaTAp73 isoforms are frequently up-regulated in ovarian cancer. Evidence for their role as epigenetic p53 inhibitors in vivo. Concin, N., Becker, K., Slade, N., Erster, S., Mueller-Holzner, E., Ulmer, H., Daxenbichler, G., Zeimet, A., Zeillinger, R., Marth, C., Moll, U.M. Cancer Res. (2004) [Pubmed]
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