Clin Cancer Res. 2004; 10:626-633.

Quantitative TP73 transcript analysis in hepatocellular carcinomas.

Stiewe T, Tuve S, Peter M, Tannapfel A, Elmaagacli AH, Pützer BM.


PURPOSE: The p53 family member p73 displays significant homology to p53, but data from primary tumors demonstrating increased expression levels of p73 in the absence of any gene mutations argue against a classical tumor suppressor function. A detailed analysis of the p73 protein in tumor tissues has revealed expression of two classes of p73 isoforms. Whereas the proapoptotic, full-length, transactivation-competent p73 protein (TA-p73) has a putative tumor suppressor activity similar to p53, the antiapoptotic, NH(2)-terminally truncated, transactivation-deficient p73 protein (DeltaTA-p73) has been shown to possess oncogenic activity. The oncogenic proteins can be generated by the following two different mechanisms: (a) aberrant splicing (p73Deltaex2, p73Deltaex2/3, DeltaN'-p73) and (b) alternative promoter usage of a second intronic promoter (DeltaN-p73). The purpose of our study was to elucidate the origin of DeltaTA-p73 isoforms in hepatocellular carcinomas. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We analyzed the underlying mechanisms of p73 overexpression in cancer cells by quantification of p73 transcripts from 10 hepatocellular carcinoma patients using isoform-specific real-time reverse transcription-PCR. RESULTS: Our data demonstrate that only aberrantly spliced DeltaTA-p73 transcripts from the TA promoter show significantly increased expression levels in the tumor whereas the DeltaN-p73 transcript generated from the second promoter is not significantly up-regulated. CONCLUSIONS: Although we only analyzed 10 patient samples the results strongly suggest that the elevated activity of the first promoter (TA promoter) accounts for high-level expression of both full-length TA-p73 and aberrantly spliced DeltaTA-p73 isoforms in hepatocellular carcinoma tissues.