Background: Mortalin is a heat-non-inducible member of the heat shock protein 70 family. Mortalin binds to p53 and prevents p53 from entering the nucleus. To understand the significance of mortalin in gastric cancer, we investigated the expression of mortalin and p53. Methods: Expression of mortalin and p53 was examined by immunohistochemical staining of 182 clinical samples of gastric cancer. Results: Mortalin-positive and aberrant p53-positive tumors were found in 75.2 and 49.5 % of cases, respectively. Mortalin-positive tumors were deeper in invasion and had more lymph node and liver metastases compared with mortalin-negative tumors (P < 0.01, P < 0.05, respectively). Mortalin-positive tumors had worse prognosis compared with mortalin-negative tumors (P = 0.035). Moreover, in tumors with normal p53 function, mortalin-positive tumors had worse prognosis compared with mortalin-negative tumors (P = 0.017). Conclusions: Mortalin has a great impact on gastric cancer with normal p53. Therefore, mortalin is a target molecule for treatment of gastric cancer, as well as a promising prognostic factor, especially in tumors with normal p53.
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