p53 overexpression is different in Epstein-Barr virus-associated and Epstein-Barr virus-negative carcinoma

S. Y. Leung, K. Y. Chau, S. T. Yuen, K. M. Chu, F. J. Branicki, L. P. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with a subset of gastric and head and neck carcinomas. While p53 mutation and overexpression is common in gastric cancer, in nasopharyngeal carcinoma p53 is overexpressed yet mutation is uncommon, leading to a proposed viral mechanism of p53 upregulation. We examined the expression of p53 protein in 18 EBV-associated gastric carcinomas (EBV-GA) and compared it with 29 age and sex matched EBV- negative gastric carcinomas (EBV0-GA) and 23 non-nasopharyngeal EBV- associated carcinomas (EBV-CAs) arising from various head and neck regions. Methods and results: Using two monoclonal antibodies (DO7 and PAb1801) with microwave pre-treatment, the p53 protein was scored according to the intensity and percentage of positive cells. The EBV0-GA showed a clear cut bimodal distribution of p53 levels, with either homogeneous intense staining of most tumour nuclei, or only very weak expression in a few cells. Nearly all the EBV-GA and EBV-CAs showed a weak to moderate p53 expression, characterized by heterogeneous intensity of staining in a variable proportion of tumour cells. Conclusions: The difference in p53 levels in the EBV0-GA and EBV-GA is statistically significant. The heterogeneous level of p53 in the EBV-GA and EBV-CAs and its difference from the EBV0-GA is suggestive of a nonmutational mechanism of p53 upregulation and underscores the role of the virus in the oncogenic pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-317
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Carcinoma
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • P53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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