Anticancer effects of the p53 activator nutlin-3 in Ewing’s sarcoma cells

University Children's Hospital Jena, Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Jena, Germany.
European journal of cancer (Oxford, England: 1990) (Impact Factor: 5.42). 02/2011; 47(9):1432-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.01.015
Source: PubMed


Mutation of p53 is rare in Ewing's sarcoma (ES), suggesting that targeting and activation of wild-type p53 may be an effective therapeutic strategy for ES. The recently developed small-molecule MDM2 inhibitor nutlin-3 restores wild-type p53 function, resulting in the inhibition of cancer cell growth and the induction of apoptosis. In the present study, we explored the responsiveness of ES cell lines with wild-type or mutated p53 to nutlin-3. We found that treatment with nutlin-3 increased p53 level and induced p53 target gene expression (MDM2, p21, PUMA) in ES cells with wild-type p53, but not in ES cells with mutated p53. Consistently, nutlin-3 elicited apoptosis only in wild-type p53 cells, as assessed by caspase-3 activity assay and flow cytometric analyses of mitochondrial depolarisation and DNA fragmentation. In addition, we found nutlin-3 to evoke cellular senescence, indicating that nutlin-3 induces pleiotropic anticancer effects in ES. Furthermore, combined treatment with nutlin-3 and an inhibitor of NF-κB produced synergistic antineoplastic activity in ES cells. Our findings suggest that the direct activation of p53 by nutlin-3 treatment may be a useful new therapeutic approach for patients with ES.

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    • "The p53 pathway is also an appealing target for the treatment of ES [20]. We and others have recently shown that the small-molecule MDM2 antagonist nutlin-3 exerted potent antineoplastic effects in ES cells with wt-p53, but not in ES cells with mt-p53 [21] [22]. About 90% of ES express wt-p53 [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] and thus are potentially amenable to nutlin-3 treatment. "
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