Mutations in the p53 oncogene are extremely common in human cancers, and environmental exposure to mutagenic agents may play a role in the frequency and nature of the mutations. Differences in the patterns of p53 mutations have been observed for different tumor types. It is not trivial to determine if the differences observed in two mutational spectra are statistically significant To this end, we present a computer program for comparison of two mutational spectra. The program runs on IBM-compatible personal computers and is freely available. The input for the program is a text file containing the number and nature of mutations observed in the two spectra. The output of the program is a P value, which indicates the probability that the two spectra are drawn from the same population. To demonstrate the program, the mutational spectra of single base substitutions in the p53 gene are compared in (i) bladder cancers from smokers and non-smokers, (II) small-cell lung cancers, non-small-cell lung cancers and colon cancers and (iii) hepatocellular carcinomas from high- and low-aflatoxin exposure groups. p53 mutations differ in several important aspects from a typical mutational spectra experiment, where a homogeneous population of cells is treated with a specific mutagen and mutations at a specific locus are recovered by phenotypic selection. The means by which p53 mutations are recognized is by the appearance of a cancer, and this phenotype is very complex and varied.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research