Open Access Open Badges Research article

Limited importance of the dominant-negative effect of TP53 missense mutations

Ewelina Stoczynska-Fidelus1, Malgorzata Szybka1, Sylwester Piaskowski1, Michal Bienkowski1, Krystyna Hulas-Bigoszewska1, Mateusz Banaszczyk1, Izabela Zawlik1, Dorota Jesionek-Kupnicka2, Radzislaw Kordek2, Pawel P Liberski1 and Piotr Rieske1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Pathology and Neuropathology, Chair of Oncology, Medical University of Lodz, Czechoslowacka 8/10, 92-216 Lodz, Poland

2 Department of Pathology, Chair of Oncology, Medical University of Lodz, Paderewskiego 4, 93-509 Lodz, Poland

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:243  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-243

Published: 13 June 2011



Heterozygosity of TP53 missense mutations is related to the phenomenon of the dominant-negative effect (DNE). To estimate the importance of the DNE of TP53 mutations, we analysed the percentage of cancer cases showing a single heterozygous mutation of TP53 and searched for a cell line with a single heterozygous mutation of this gene. This approach was based on the knowledge that genes with evident DNE, such as EGFR and IDH1, represent nearly 100% of single heterozygous mutations in tumour specimens and cell lines.


Genetic analyses (LOH and sequencing) performed for early and late passages of several cell lines originally described as showing single heterozygous TP53 mutations (H-318, G-16, PF-382, MOLT-13, ST-486 and LS-123). Statistical analysis of IARC TP53 and SANGER databases. Genetic analyses of N-RAS, FBXW7, PTEN and STR markers to test cross-contamination and cell line identity. Cell cloning, fluorescence-activated cell sorting and SSCP performed for the PF-382 cell line.


A database study revealed TP53 single heterozygous mutations in 35% of in vivo (surgical and biopsy) samples and only 10% of cultured cells (in vitro), although those numbers appeared to be overestimated. We deem that published in vivo TP53 mutation analyses are not as rigorous as studies in vitro, and we did not find any cell line showing a stable, single heterozygous mutation. G16, PF-382 and MOLT-13 cells harboured single heterozygous mutations temporarily. ST-486, H-318 and LS-123 cell lines were misclassified. Specific mutations, such as R175H, R273H, R273L or R273P, which are reported in the literature to exert a DNE, showed the lowest percentage of single heterozygous mutations in vitro (about 5%).


We suggest that the currently reported percentage of TP53 single heterozygous mutations in tumour samples and cancer cell lines is overestimated. Thus, the magnitude of the DNE of TP53 mutations is questionable. This scepticism is supported by database investigations showing that retention of the wild-type allele occurs with the same frequency as either nonsense or missense TP53 mutations.

TP53; heterozygous mutation; dominant-negative effect; cancer cell lines