Gynecol Oncology

Gynecol Oncol. 2002 Sep;86(3):288-96

Bax, Bcl-2, and p53 expression in endometrial cancer.


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hokkaido University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8638, Japan.



It has not been fully clarified whether alteration of Bax and other apoptosis-relating proteins of Bcl-2 and p53 is involved in endometrial carcinogenesis.


A total of 56 frozen tissues, which included 14 normal endometria, 13 endometrial hyperplasias (10 without atypia and 3 with atypia), and 29 endometrial carcinomas, were examined for the expression of Bax, Bcl-2, and p53 using immunohistochemistry. For Bax-negative cases, PCR-direct sequencing was performed for the bax gene. For cases with p53 overexpression, mutational analysis was performed for the p53 gene using a yeast functional assay and sequencing.


Both Bax and Bcl-2 were distinctly expressed in the normal proliferative phase endometrium. A decreased Bcl-2/Bax ratio in the secretory phase endometrial gland cells due to suppressed Bcl-2 expression was observed. Bax expression was positive in all 13 endometrial hyperplasias, while it was absent in 6 of 29 endometrial carcinomas (20.7%). Negative Bax expression in endometrial carcinoma was not related to tumor stage, histologic subtype, or other histopathologic prognostic factors. Bax expression showed no relationship to either p53 overexpression or Bcl-2 expression. In the DNA of 6 Bax-negative cases, we found a frameshift insertion mutation at codon 58 (AAG to CAAG) in the BH3 domain despite the absence of mutation in the (G)8 tract, suggesting that this codon may be another preferred target for bax mutation other than the (G)8 tract. Mutational analysis was available for 7 of 10 cases with p53 overexpression, in which 5 cases were found to have a missense mutation and 2 cases had no mutation of the p53 gene. At least 10 of 29 (34.5%) cases of endometrial carcinoma were associated with sequence-verified mutation in the bax gene and/or p53 gene.


The bax gene frameshift mutation appears to cause a loss of Bax expression in endometrial carcinoma. Codon 58 may be a preferred target of bax gene mutation in endometrial carcinomas. The bax gene mutation seems to occur in the early stage of the genesis of a subset of endometrial carcinomas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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