Thierry Soussi's Group

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Analysis of TP53 mutations heterogeneity in human tumours. The objective of the group is to understand how alterations of the p53 tumour suppressor gene contribute to the heterogeneity of the clinical manifestation of human cancer.

TP53 alterations are the most frequent genetic event in human cancer. In order to have a more accurate picture on the heterogeneity of TP53 loss of function, we have undertake a multidisciplinary program that will combine clinical, in silico and basic analysis to understand how alterations of the p53 tumour suppressor gene contribute to the heterogeneity of the clinical manifestation of human cancer.

For more than 30 years, since my postdoctoral position in 1984, in the laboratory directed by P. May, one of the four discoverers of the TP53 protein, my research has followed a regular course combining both basic research and clinical studies.

Phylogenetic analysis of the TP53 gene (or other genes) can estimate when this gene first appeared, allowing identification of the signalling pathways in which it is involved. Comparison of the sequences of the same gene in different animal species reveals the most highly conserved regions, which generally correspond to domains that are important for the function of the protein.

Analysis of the mutations found in diseases such as cancers can identify variants specifically selected by the pathological process.

Comparison of these two processes in the context of the study of the TP53 gene has been the basis of all of my work since my doctorate thesis: on the one hand phylogeny, a constructive evolutionary process and, on the other hand, neoplastic disease, a destructive process. The TP53 mutation database, developed by my laboratory since 1989, has been an extremely valuable tool in this research, as it constitutes a central link for the analysis of these two processes and raises numerous working hypotheses that have driven my research over the years.

  • What is the function of the most phylogenetically conserved residues?
  • What p53 functions are inactivated in the most frequently mutated mutants (hot spot regions)?
  • What p53 functions are associated with phylogenetically conserved p53 residues that are never mutated in cancers (cold spot regions)?
  • What is the clinical value of TP53 mutations in human cancer and how can they be diagnosed?

Reporting, storing, classifying and analysing these mutations constitute a major challenge (Horaitis and Cotton, 2004). For a long time, locus-specific databases (LSDB) have been developed for this purpose. Most of them are a list of mutations collected in publications and no information indicating whether or not these are passenger or driver mutations are available. TP53 mutation (TP53; MIM# 191170) database is a paradigm, as it constitutes the largest collection of somatic mutations for a single gene.

The UMD TP53 database is one of the oldest TP53 mutation databases. Created in 1989 by my group, it has been regularly updated and the most recent version, released in January 2017, includes more than 80,000 TP53 mutations and it is the most up-to-date TP53 collection currently available (Caron de Fromentel and Soussi, 1992; Soussi and Beroud, 2001; Soussi et al., 2006; Soussi, 2014). This database includes key information that is not available in other large repositories, such as TCGA, COSMIC or ICIG. Furthermore, compared to these large repositories, the UMD TP53 database does not comprise any specific bias with respect to particular TP53 variants (Soussi et al., 2017).

Accurate assessment of TP53 gene status in sporadic tumours and in the germline of individuals at high risk of cancer, such as Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS), has important clinical implications for diagnosis, surveillance and therapy and has now reached a clinical practice phase. In this context, we have recently reported recommendations and guidelines for the analysis of TP53 gene alterations in routine clinical practice (Leroy et al., 2017). This paper is freely available here.


Group members

Thierry Soussi, Group leader
Julie Bianchi, Post doc 2015-2015
Helena Silva Cascales, Post doc 2017-2017
Tatjana Pandzic, Post doc, 2016-2017

Selected publications

TP53 and 53BP1 Reunited.
Soussi T, Kroemer G
Trends Cell Biol. 2017 May;27(5):311-313

Synonymous Somatic Variants in Human Cancer Are Not Infamous: A Plea for Full Disclosure in Databases and Publications.
Soussi T, Taschner P, Samuels Y
Hum. Mutat. 2017 Apr;38(4):339-342

Recommended Guidelines for Validation, Quality Control, and Reporting of TP53 Variants in Clinical Practice.
Leroy B, Ballinger M, Baran-Marszak F, Bond G, Braithwaite A, Concin N, et al
Cancer Res. 2017 Mar;77(6):1250-1260

TP53 mutations are early events in chronic lymphocytic leukemia disease progression and precede evolution to complex karyotypes.
Lazarian G, Tausch E, Eclache V, Sebaa A, Bianchi V, Letestu R, et al
Int. J. Cancer 2016 10;139(8):1759-63

Genetic profiling of CLL: a 'TP53 addict' perspective.
Lodé L, Cymbalista F, Soussi T
Cell Death Dis 2016 Jan;7():e2042

TP53: an oncogene in disguise.
Soussi T, Wiman K
Cell Death Differ. 2015 Aug;22(8):1239-49

TP53 mutations in human cancer: database reassessment and prospects for the next decade.
Leroy B, Anderson M, Soussi T
Hum. Mutat. 2014 Jun;35(6):672-88

The TP53 gene network in a postgenomic era.
Soussi T
Hum. Mutat. 2014 Jun;35(6):641-2

Recommendations for analyzing and reporting TP53 gene variants in the high-throughput sequencing era.
Soussi T, Leroy B, Taschner P
Hum. Mutat. 2014 Jun;35(6):766-78

Locus-specific databases in cancer: what future in a post-genomic era? The TP53 LSDB paradigm.
Soussi T
Hum. Mutat. 2014 Jun;35(6):643-53

Analysis of TP53 mutation status in human cancer cell lines: a reassessment.
Leroy B, Girard L, Hollestelle A, Minna J, Gazdar A, Soussi T
Hum. Mutat. 2014 Jun;35(6):756-65

The TP53 website: an integrative resource centre for the TP53 mutation database and TP53 mutant analysis.
Leroy B, Fournier J, Ishioka C, Monti P, Inga A, Fronza G, et al
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Jan;41(Database issue):D962-9

Data-driven unbiased curation of the TP53 tumor suppressor gene mutation database and validation by ultradeep sequencing of human tumors.
Edlund K, Larsson O, Ameur A, Bunikis I, Gyllensten U, Leroy B, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2012 Jun;109(24):9551-6

TP53 mutation profile in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: evidence for a disease specific profile from a comprehensive analysis of 268 mutations.
Zenz T, Vollmer D, Trbusek M, Smardova J, Benner A, Soussi T, et al
Leukemia 2010 Dec;24(12):2072-9

The history of p53. A perfect example of the drawbacks of scientific paradigms.
Soussi T
EMBO Rep. 2010 Nov;11(11):822-6

Mutations in TP53 are exclusively associated with del(17p) in multiple myeloma.
Lodé L, Eveillard M, Trichet V, Soussi T, Wuillème S, Richebourg S, et al
Haematologica 2010 Nov;95(11):1973-6

Mutant p53 protein localized in the cytoplasm inhibits autophagy.
Morselli E, Tasdemir E, Maiuri M, Galluzzi L, Kepp O, Criollo A, et al
Cell Cycle 2008 Oct;7(19):3056-61

Shaping genetic alterations in human cancer: the p53 mutation paradigm.
Soussi T, Wiman K
Cancer Cell 2007 Oct;12(4):303-12

Locus-specific mutation databases: pitfalls and good practice based on the p53 experience.
Soussi T, Ishioka C, Claustres M, Béroud C
Nat. Rev. Cancer 2006 01;6(1):83-90

Full list of publications