Immunohistochemistry staining of p53 is a cheap and simple method to detect aberrant function of p53. However, there are some discrepancies between the result of immunohistochemistry staining and mutation analysis. This study attempted to find a new definition of p53 staining by its staining pattern. Immunohistochemistry staining of p53 and TP53 gene mutation analysis were performed in 148 gastric cancer patients. Also SNP-CGH array analysis was conducted to four cases. Positive staining of p53 was observed in 88 (59.5%) tumors. Tumors with positive p53 staining showed malignant features compared to negative tumors. Mutation of TP53 gene was observed in 29 (19.6%) tumors with higher age and differentiated type. In positive p53 tumors, two types could be distinguished; aberrant type and scattered type. With comparison to TP53 gene mutation analysis, all the scattered type had wild-type TP53 gene (P = 0.0003). SNP-CGH array showed that scattered-type tumors had no change in the structure of chromosome 17. P53-scattered-type staining tumors may reflect a functionally active nonmutated TP53 gene. In interpretation of p53 immunohistochemistry staining, distinguishing p53-positive tumors by their staining pattern may be important in gastric cancer.
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