Hprt mutant frequency and p53 gene status in mice chronically exposed by inhalation to benzene
Hprt mutant frequency and p53 gene status were assessed in wild-type and p53 heterozygous (p53+/−) mice exposed chronically by inhalation to benzene. Benzene exposures to 100ppm for 6h on Monday–Friday, 100ppm for 10h on Monday–Wednesday–Friday, or 200ppm for 5h on Monday–Wednesday–Friday yielded the same total exposures (concentration×time) of 3000ppm×h/week. Hprt mutations in splenic T-lymphocytes were significantly increased in all benzene groups, ranging from 3.8- to 8.0-fold greater than control values. Wild-type and p53+/− mice were equally susceptible to benzene mutagenesis. Hprt wild-type and mutant isolates from control and exposed animals were examined for TCR gene rearrangements (as markers of in vivo clonality) and for loss of p53 wild-type or mutant alleles. Moderate clonal amplifications were observed among the Hprt mutant but not Hprt wild-type isolates but was not sufficient to account for the increases in Hprt mutant frequencies. Most isolates, whether Hprt wild-type or mutant, retained both p53 alleles in the benzene-exposed p53+/− animals (54% and 63%, respectively, for the Hprt wild-type and mutants). However, 37% of the Hprt wild-type isolates and 46% of the Hprt mutant isolates lost the p53 mutant allele. Only a small percentage of either type of isolate lost the p53 wild-type allele, and this was always in isolates that that previously lost the p53 mutant allele. Loss of the p53 mutant allele was independent of benzene exposure, Hprt status, or 6-thioguanine selection. These findings contrast with the p53 status of thymic lymphomas that had preferentially lost the wild-type p53 allele in some of these same mice. Possible reasons for loss of the mutant p53 allele in the Hprt mutant and wild-type isolates are discussed.