Genomic and immunologic surveillance mechanisms are crucial in protection from cancer. The tumor suppressor protein p53, encoded by TP53, is a major regulator of genome surveillance. Among the natural sequence variants of TP53, rs1042522 (R72P) modifies the risk for solid tumors. To investigate its relevance in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) susceptibility, we genotyped 114 cases and 414 newborn controls from Wales (UK) for polymorphisms in TP53 (R72P), its negative regulator MDM2 (single-nucleotide polymorphism SNP309, rs2279744), and selected HLA complex genes whose products interact with TP53. TP53 R72P showed a risk association with gene dosage effect (P=0.002) resulting in a strong association of homozygous genotype (OR=2.9, 95% CI=1.5-5.6) and no sex effect. SNP309 did not show any association with primary susceptibility to childhood ALL, even after stratification by sex. However, females with SNP309 minor allele had earlier onset of childhood ALL (median age at diagnosis was 36 months in females, but 60 months in males; P=0.002). The HLA complex genes did not show any statistically significant interaction with R72P. We have therefore identified TP53 R72P as a possible risk modifier for childhood ALL and the association of MDM2 with age at onset with sex effect suggests prenatal hormonal programming of childhood ALL susceptibility.
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