p53 mutations as fingerprints of environmental carcinogens
Mutations of the p53 tumor suppressor gene occur in a great majority of human cancers. The protein product of p53 gene is involved in DNA damage response. Consequently, p53 gene may be a preferred target for environmental carcinogens, which also act as DNA-damaging agents. This is probably why p53 mutations are frequent in cancers linked to environmental carcinogens. Moreover, these carcinogens leave molecular fingerprints on the p53 gene. Thus, the study of p53 mutation spectra has been a useful approach to implicate suspected carcinogens to different human cancers. This review provides further insight into the significance of p53 mutation spectra in ten common human malignancies (skin, liver, lung, bladder, breast, head and neck, esophagus, stomach and colorectal cancers, and hematological malignancies), in relation with environmental carcinogens.