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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 23-29

Enhanced MDM2 Oncoprotein Expression in Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Several Possible Regulatory Mechanisms

1Department of Surgical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Box 106, University of Texas, Houston, TX 77030, USA
2Department of Tumor Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Box 106, University of Texas, Houston, TX 77030, USA
3Department of Pathology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, USA
4Department of Cell Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, USA

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose. MDM2 is an oncogene whose protein product may promote tumorigenesis by blocking wild-type p53 tumor suppressor mediated G0/G1 cell cycle arrest, thereby inhibiting repair of damaged DNA prior to cell division. While MDM2 DNA amplification is frequently observed in human sarcoma, the mechanisms linking this amplification to MDM2 oncoprotein over-production as well as its functional significance have not been well characterized in patients with soft tissue sarcoma.

Methods. A tissue bank of resected soft tissue sarcomas and autologous normal tissues was assembled; all specimens were snap frozen within 15 min of resection. DNA and RNA were extracted from tissues using isoamyl alcohol and phenol chloroform extraction methods, respectively; cell lysates were prepared using PBSTDS lysis buffer. DNA and mRNA were confirmed as being non-degraded and were then examined for MDM2 DNA amplification (Southern blots) and mRNA over-expression (Northern blots) using actin (DNA) and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (mRNA) as loading controls. The MDM2 protein was examined on Western blots using the MDM2-specific monoclonal antibody IF2 (Oncogene Science, Inc). The presence of p53 DNA and expression of p53 mRNA was examined by rehybridizing the Southern and Northern filters using a p53-specific cDNA probe.

Results. Soft tissue sarcomas and autologous normal tissues were screened for MDM2 DNA amplification, which was detected in 10 of 30 tumors screened. After screening, there was sufficient biomaterials from six specimens for subsequent Northern and Western analysis to see whether MDM2 gene amplification correlated with over-expression of MDM2 mRNA and MDM2 protein. In addition, we examined whether other mechanisms may lead to over-expression of the MDM2 oncoprotein. Several possible mechanisms of MDM2 oncoprotein over-expression were identified. These most commonly included MDM2 DNA amplification, MDM2 mRNA over-expression and MDM2 oncoprotein over-expression. However, some soft tissue sarcoma patient specimens had no evidence of MDM2 mRNA over-expression yet had MDM2 oncoprotein over-production in the tumor relative to autologous normal tissue, implying possible post-transcriptional regulation. Of functional relevance, MDM2 oncoprotein over-production by tumors was associated with large decreases in the percentage of cells in the G0/G1 cell cycle interface compared with autologous normal tissue cells.

Discussion. It is likely that there are multiple mechanisms underlying human soft tissue sarcoma MDM2 oncoprotein over-production. Consequently, strategies that decrease MDM2 over-production, such as transcriptional repression to inhibit MDM2 promoter activity or RNA antisense approaches, may ultimately offer the best therapeutic efficacy.