p53 Gene Mutations in SKH-1 Mouse Tumors Differentially Induced by UVB and Combined Subcarcinogenic Benzo[a]pyrene and UVA


  • This paper is part of a special issue dedicated to Professor Hasan Mukhtar on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

*Corresponding author email: huachen.wei@mssm.edu (Huachen Wei)


We compared the frequency and spectra of p53 mutations in skin tumors from UVB-irradiated and benzo(a)pyrene-UVA-treated SKH-1 mice. Analysis of p53 mutations using a combination of polymerase chain reaction, denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography, and sequencing shows that the frequency and spectrum of p53 mutations in BaP-UVA-induced tumors are quite different from those in UVB-induced tumors. SKH-1 mice were treated with BaP-UVA or UVB for 30 weeks after which skin tumors were collected for analysis of p53 mutations. Among the 11 BaP-UVA-induced tumors with diameters of 5–10 mm, two displayed mutations in exon 8 yielding a mutation frequency of 18.2%. In contrast, the mutation frequency among BaP-UVA-induced tumors was 10.5%. In UVB-induced tumors, the mutation frequency in exon 8 was highly correlated with tumor size. A total of 77.8% of tumors with diameters larger than 10 mm contained p53 mutations. The overall mutation frequency among UVB-induced tumors was 17.9% in exon 8 and only 3.8% in exon 5. Hotspots for p53 mutation in UVB-induced tumors were found at codons 128 and 149 (exon 5), and at codons 268, 270, 271 and 273–276 (exon 8). In addition to widely recognized C→T missense mutations, there were also tandem CC→AG changes coupled with either an insertion of T, a C→G substitution or G→C/T mutations. All of the mutations were found at tri- or tetra-pyrimidine sites. Thirty-nine per cent of all p53 mutations occurred at codons 274 and 275; 53% occurred at codons 268–271. Two multiple mutation clusters were located at codons 268–271 and 274–276. Both BaP-UVA and UVB caused C→T transitions at codon 275 in exon 8. A C→T mutation at codon 294 was induced only by BaP-UVA treatment. In contrast to UVB treatment, BaP-UVA treatment did not induce any mutations in exon 5. We show that individually subcarcinogenic levels of BaP and UVA synergistically induce a novel p53-mutation fingerprint. This fingerprint could serve as a prognostic indicator for the development of BaP-UVA-induced skin tumors.