High Levels of Stable p53 Protein and the Expression of c-myc in Cultured Human Epithelial Tissue after Cobalt-60 Irradiation
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When explants of human uroepithelium or esophageal epithelium are exposed to acute doses of radiation (cobalt-60), the cells which grow out to form the primary cultures show a number of abnormal features. These include the development of characteristic nonsenescent foci. These foci have previously been shown to be c-myc positive and to have an abnormal, tumor-like ultrastructure. Expression of c-myc and the level of stable p53 proteins have now been examined in these cultures 2 weeks after irradiation. Both proteins occurred in dividing cells at the growing edge of the explant and in the foci. The expression of c-myc appeared to be correlated with growth. As expected, variation between individual cultures of normal human cells were noted in the expression of stable p53 protein. Most control uroepithelial cell cultures were negative, but a small cohort showed a wide range of values. The control cultures from the esophageal tissues had high expression of p53, and this decreased marginally after irradiation. Cells positive for p53 were always in cycle and were usually positive for c-myc as well. It would appear from these results that the expression of c-myc and the stable form of the p53 protein occur in irradiated primary cultures of normal human cells both in foci which also express a number of abnormalities and in "edge" cells which are dividing. Cultures of unirradiated cells from esophagus and a small number of uroepithelial samples had high levels of p53. Possible reasons for this are discussed.
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