Neuroendocrine pancreatic tumours grow slower and metastasise later than ductal and acinar carcinomas. The expression of the p53 tumour suppressor gene in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour cells is unknown. Pancreatic neuroendocrine cell lines (n = 5) and human tumour tissues (n = 19) were studied for changed p53 coding sequence, transcription, and translation. Proliferative activity of tumour cells was determined analysing Ki-67 expression. No mutation in the p53 nucleotide sequence of neuroendocrine tumour cell was found. However, an overexpression of p53 could be detected in neuroendocrine pancreatic tumour cell lines at a protein level. As no p53 mutations were seen, it is suggested that post-translational events can also lead to an overexpression of p53.
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