The expression of the murine double minute-2 (MDM2) gene, the product of which binds to and inactivates p53, was studied in 60 patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (B-NHL). Northern blot analysis showed that the level of MDM2 gene expression was low in normal human B-cells, whereas 17 of the patients (28.3%) with B-CLL or NHL had more than 10-fold higher levels of MDM2 gene expression than that observed in normal B cells. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed MDM2 overexpression at the cellular protein level. MDM2 gene overexpression was found more frequently in patients with the low-grade type of lymphoma (56.5%) than in those with intermediate-/high-grade types (10.8%) (P = .001). Moreover, MDM2 overexpression was found significantly more frequently in patients at advanced clinical stages. Simultaneous analysis of p53 gene mutation showed that three patients had both MDM2 gene overexpression and p53 gene mutation. The results of the present study suggest that MDM2 gene overexpression may play an important role in the tumorigenicity and/or disease progression of CLL and low-grade lymphomas of B-cell origin.

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