Therapeutic potential of p53 restoration in spontaneous tumors
Over 80% of p53 mutations found in human cancers are p53 missense mutations. Recent studies have shown that p53 restoration leads to tumor regression in mice with p53 deletions, but the therapeutic efficacy of p53 restoration in tumors containing p53 missense mutations has not been evaluated. Since p53 mutant such as p53R172H has gain-of-function activities and dominant-negative effect that repress wild type p53, the activity of restored wild-type p53 might be compromised by the mutant p53 in tumors. We hypothesized that p53 restoration in tumors with the p53R172H mutation may be less therapeutically effective as p53 restoration in tumors null for p53. I tested this hypothesis by comparison of the therapeutic outcomes of p53 restoration in mice with spontaneous tumors that either lacked p53 or contained the p53R172H mutation. While p53 restoration causes tumor regression in mice lacking p53, the same p53 restoration halts tumor progression in mice with the p53R172H mutation. This phenotypic difference suggests a dominant-negative activity of the mutant p53. Moreover, I showed that the mutant p53 only inhibits part of the activity of the restored wild-type p53 and that the remaining wild-type activity still causes a delay in tumor progression. We conclude that p53 restoration has therapeutic potential in p53R172H tumors via suppression of tumor progression. This knowledge is of critical importance for p53 targeted cancer therapy because many patients with cancers harbor p53 missense mutations rather p53 -null mutations. Since p53R172H mutation represents one of the most frequent and potent p53 missense mutations observed in human cancers, the current findings implicates that p53 restoration may be therapeutically important not only in human cancers characterized by loss of p53 alleles but also in those in which p53 missense mutations play an important pathogenetic role.
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