The TP53 (p53) pathway can be inhibited by TP53 mutation or deletion or by MDM2 overexpression. Both occur in Burkitt lymphoma (BL), but many cases lack either abnormality. Expression patterns of the TP53 inhibitor MDM4 have not been reported in BL, and increased MDM4 could deregulate the TP53 pathway in cases without TP53 or MDM2 abnormalities. We investigated TP53 pathway disruption in paediatric BL patient samples (n = 30) by studying MDM4, MDM2, and CDKN1A (p21) protein and mRNA expression; TP53 mutations; TP53 protein expression; and gene copy number abnormalities. MDM4 protein was expressed in 30/30 tumours, and MDM2 protein was weakly expressed in 7/30 (23%). All cases were negative for CDKN1A protein, and CDKN1A mRNA levels were decreased. TP53 mutations were detected in 5/28 (18%) cases and confirmed by sequencing. TP53 protein was expressed in 15/30 (50%) cases, including 7/8 with TP53 genetic alterations. MDM2 protein and mRNA expression levels did not correlate with lack of TP53 genetic changes or TP53 protein expression; however, there was an inverse relationship between detectable TP53 protein expression and MDM4 copy number gains and mRNA expression. The TP53 pathway is deregulated in paediatric BL cases, and increased MDM4 expression may be the primary mechanism in some cases.
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