MDM2-dependent downregulation of p21 and hnRNP K provides a switch between apoptosis and growth arrest induced by pharmacologically activated p53.

Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.
Cancer cell (Impact Factor: 25.29). 04/2009; 15(3):171-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2009.01.019
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We have previously identified the p53-reactivating compound RITA in a cell-based screen. Here, using microarray analysis, we show that the global transcriptional response of tumor cells to RITA is p53 dependent. Pathway analysis revealed induction of the p53 apoptosis pathway, consistent with apoptosis being the major response to RITA in cancer cells. We uncovered that MDM2 released from p53 by RITA promotes degradation of p21 and the p53 cofactor hnRNP K, required for p21 transcription. Functional studies revealed MDM2-dependent inhibition of p21 as a key switch regulating cell fate decisions upon p53 reactivation. Our results emphasize the utility of targeting wild-type p53 protein itself as a promising approach for anticancer therapy.

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    ABSTRACT: TP53 is the most commonly mutated gene in head and neck cancer (HNSCC), with mutations being associated with resistance to conventional therapy. Restoring normal p53 function has previously been investigated via the use of RITA (reactivation of p53 and induction of tumor cell apoptosis), a small molecule that induces a conformational change in p53, leading to activation of its downstream targets. In the current study we found that RITA indeed exerts significant effects in HNSCC cells. However, in this model, we found that a significant outcome of RITA treatment was accelerated senescence. RITA-induced senescence in a variety of p53 backgrounds, including p53 null cells. Also, inhibition of p53 expression did not appear to significantly inhibit RITA-induced senescence. Thus, this phenomenon appears to be partially p53-independent. Additionally, RITA-induced senescence appears to be partially mediated by activation of the DNA damage response and SIRT1 (Silent information regulator T1) inhibition, with a synergistic effect seen by combining either ionizing radiation or SIRT1 inhibition with RITA treatment. These data point toward a novel mechanism of RITA function as well as hint to its possible therapeutic benefit in HNSCC.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(8):e104821. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Significant advances have been made in the development of small molecules blocking the p53/MDM2 interaction. The Mdm2 inhibitor Nutlin-3 is restricted to tumors carrying wtp53. In contrast, RITA, a compound that binds p53, has recently been shown also to restore transcriptional functions of mtp53. As more than 50% of solid tumors carry p53 mutations, RITA promises to be a more effective therapeutic strategy than Nutlin-3. We investigated effects of RITA on apoptosis, cell cycle and induction of 45 p53 target genes in a panel of 14 cell lines from different tumor entities with different p53 status as well as primary lymphocytes and fibroblasts. Nine cell strains expressed wtp53, four harbored mtp53, and three were characterized by the loss of p53 protein. A significant induction of cell death upon RITA was observed in 7 of 16 cell lines. The nonmalignant cells in our panel were substantially less sensitive. We found that in contrast to Nultin-3, RITA is capable to induce cell death not only in tumor cells harboring wtp53 and mtp53 but also in p53-null cells. Importantly, whereas p53 has a central role for RITA-mediated effects in wtp53 cells, neither p53 nor p63 or p73 were essential for the RITA response in mtp53 or p53-null cells in our panel demonstrating that besides the known p53-dependent action of RITA in wtp53 cells, RITA can induce cell death also independently of p53 in cells harboring defective p53. We identified an important role of both p38 and JNK/SAPK for sensitivity to RITA in these cells leading to a typical caspase- and BAX/BAK-dependent mitochondrial apoptosis. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that RITA can induce apoptosis through p38 and JNK/SAPK not only in tumor cells harboring wtp53 and mtp53 but also in p53-null cells, making RITA an interesting tumor-selective drug.
    Cell Death & Disease 01/2014; 5:e1318. · 5.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: p53 is an important tumor suppressor gene, which is stimulated by cellular stress like ionizing radiation, hypoxia, carcinogens, and oxidative stress. Upon activation, p53 leads to cell-cycle arrest and promotes DNA repair or induces apoptosis via several pathways. p63 and p73 are structural homologs of p53 that can act similarly to the protein and also hold functions distinct from p53. Today more than 40 different isoforms of the p53 family members are known. They result from transcription via different promoters and alternative splicing. Some isoforms have carcinogenic properties and mediate resistance to chemotherapy. Therefore, expression patterns of the p53 family genes can offer prognostic information in several malignant tumors. Furthermore, the p53 family constitutes a potential target for cancer therapy. Small molecules (e.g., Nutlins, RITA, PRIMA-1, and MIRA-1 among others) have been objects of intense research interest in recent years. They restore pro-apoptotic wild-type p53 function and were shown to break chemotherapeutic resistance. Due to p53 family interactions small molecules also influence p63 and p73 activity. Thus, the members of the p53 family are key players in the cellular stress response in cancer and are expected to grow in importance as therapeutic targets.
    Frontiers in oncology. 01/2014; 4:285.

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