Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide and the major risk factors include chronic infections with the hepatitis B (HBV) or C (HCV) virus, and exposure to dietary aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1)) or alcohol consumption. Multiple genetic and epigenetic changes are involved in the molecular pathogenesis of HCC, for example, somatic mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene (TP53) and the activation of the WNT signal transduction pathway. AFB(1) frequently induces G:C to T:A transversions at the third base in codon 249 of TP53 and cooperates with HBV in causing p53 mutations in HCC. The detection of TP53 mutant DNA in plasma is a biomarker of both AFB(1) exposure and HCC risk. Chronic infection with HBV and HCV viruses, and oxyradical disorders including hemochromatosis, also generate reactive oxygen/nitrogen species that can both damage DNA and mutate cancer-related genes such as TP53. Certain mutant p53 proteins may exhibit a 'gain of oncogenic function'. The p53 biological network is a key responder to this oxidative and nitrosative stress. Depending on the extent of the DNA damage, p53 regulates the transcription of protective antioxidant genes and with extensive DNA damage, transactivates pro-oxidant genes that contribute to apoptosis. The X gene of HBV (HBx) is the most common open reading frame integrated into the host genome in HCC and the integrated HBx is frequently mutated. Mutant HBx proteins still retain their ability to bind to p53, and attenuate DNA repair and p53-mediated apoptosis. In summary, both viruses and chemicals are implicated in the etiology of TP53 mutations during the molecular pathogenesis of HCC.
Cells sense their environment and adapt to it by fine-tuning their transcriptome. Wired into this network of gene expression control are mechanisms to compensate for gene dosage. The increasing use of reverse genetics in zebrafish, and other model systems, has revealed profound differences between the phenotypes caused by genetic mutations and those caused by gene knockdowns at many loci, an observation previously reported in mouse and Arabidopsis. To identify the reasons underlying the phenotypic differences between mutants and knockdowns, we generated mutations in zebrafish egfl7, an endothelial extracellular matrix gene of therapeutic interest, as well as in vegfaa. Here we show that egfl7 mutants do not show any obvious phenotypes while animals injected with egfl7 morpholino (morphants) exhibit severe vascular defects. We further observe that egfl7 mutants are less sensitive than their wild-type siblings to Egfl7 knockdown, arguing against residual protein function in the mutants or significant off-target effects of the morpholinos when used at a moderate dose. Comparing egfl7 mutant and morphant proteomes and transcriptomes, we identify a set of proteins and genes that are upregulated in mutants but not in morphants. Among them are extracellular matrix genes that can rescue egfl7 morphants, indicating that they could be compensating for the loss of Egfl7 function in the phenotypically wild-type egfl7 mutants. Moreover, egfl7 CRISPR interference, which obstructs transcript elongation and causes severe vascular defects, does not cause the upregulation of these genes. Similarly, vegfaa mutants but not morphants show an upregulation of vegfab. Taken together, these data reveal the activation of a compensatory network to buffer against deleterious mutations, which was not observed after translational or transcriptional knockdown.
Aurora kinase A (also called STK15 and BTAK) is overexpressed in many human cancers. Ectopic overexpression of aurora kinase A in mammalian cells induces centrosome amplification, chromosome instability and oncogenic transformation, a phenotype characteristic of loss-of-function mutations of p53. Here we show that aurora kinase A phosphorylates p53 at Ser315, leading to its ubiquitination by Mdm2 and proteolysis. p53 is not degraded in the presence of inactive aurora kinase A or ubiquitination-defective Mdm2. Destabilization of p53 by aurora kinase A is abrogated in the presence of mutant Mdm2 that is unable to bind p53 and after repression of Mdm2 by RNA interference. Silencing of aurora kinase A results in less phosphorylation of p53 at Ser315, greater stability of p53 and cell-cycle arrest at G2-M. Cells depleted of aurora kinase A are more sensitive to cisplatin-induced apoptosis, and elevated expression of aurora kinase A abolishes this response. In a sample of bladder tumors with wild-type p53, elevated expression of aurora kinase A was correlated with low p53 concentration. We conclude that aurora kinase A is a key regulatory component of the p53 pathway and that overexpression of aurora kinase A leads to increased degradation of p53, causing downregulation of checkpoint-response pathways and facilitating oncogenic transformation of cells.
The normal functioning of p53 is a potent barrier to cancer. Tumour-associated mutations in TP53, typically single nucleotide substitutions in the coding sequence, are a hallmark of most human cancers and cause dramatic defects in p53 function. By contrast, only a small fraction, if any, of the >200 naturally occurring sequence variations (single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs) of TP53 in human populations are expected to cause measurable perturbation of p53 function. Polymorphisms in the TP53 locus that might have cancer-related phenotypical manifestations are the subject of this Review. Polymorphic variants of other genes in the p53 pathway, such as MDM2, which might have biological consequences either individually or in combination with p53 variants are also discussed.
The p53 tumor suppressor is maintained at low levels in normal cells by Mdm2-mediated degradation and strongly stabilized in response to various types of stress including hypoxia. Although hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha) has been implicated to be involved in p53 stabilization, the precise mechanism by which HIF-1 alpha regulates p53-mediated function remains unknown. Here, we found that HIF-1 alpha directly binds Mdm2 both in vitro and in vivo; in contrast, p53 fails to directly interact with HIF-1 alpha in vitro. Interestingly, Mdm2 expression can significantly enhance the in vivo association between p53 and HIF-1 alpha, indicating that Mdm2 may act as a bridge and mediate the indirect interaction between HIF-1 alpha and p53 in cells. Furthermore, HIF-1 alpha protects p53 degradation mediated by Mdm2, and leads to activation of p53-mediated transcription in cells. To elucidate the mechanism of HIF-1 alpha-mediated effect, we also found that HIF-1 alpha can significantly suppress Mdm2-mediated p53 ubiquitination in vitro and blocks Mdm2-mediated nuclear export of p53. These results have significant implications regarding the molecular mechanism by which p53 is activated by HIF-1 alpha in response to hypoxia.
The tumor suppressor p53 is negatively regulated by the ubiquitin ligase MDM2. The MDM2 recognition site is at the NH2-terminal region of p53, but the positions of the actual ubiquitination acceptor sites are less well defined. Lysine residues at the COOH-terminal region of p53 are implicated as sites for ubiquitination and other post-translational modifications. Unexpectedly, we found that substitution of the COOH-terminal lysine residues did not diminish MDM2-mediated ubiquitination. Ubiquitination was not abolished even after the entire COOH-terminal regulatory region was removed. Using a method involving in vitro proteolytic cleavage at specific sites after ubiquitination, we found that p53 was ubiquitinated at the NH2-terminal portion of the protein. The lysine residue within the transactivation domain is probably not essential for ubiquitination, as substitution with an arginine did not affect MDM2 binding or ubiquitination. In contrast, several conserved lysine residues in the DNA-binding domain are critical for p53 ubiquitination. Removal of the DNA-binding domain reduced ubiquitination and increased the stability of p53. These data provide evidence that in addition to the COOH-terminal residues, p53 may also be ubiquitinated at sites in the DNA-binding domain.
Wild-type p53-induced phosphatase (Wip1 or PPM1D) is a serine/threonine protein phosphatase expressed under various stress conditions, which selectively inactivates p38 MAPK. The finding that this gene is amplified in association with frequent gain of 17q21-24 in breast cancers supports its role as a driver oncogene. However, the pathogenetic mechanism of the wip1 gene expression in breast carcinogenesis remains to be elucidated. In this study, we examine Wip1 mRNA and protein expression in 20 breast cancer tissues and six cell lines. We additionally investigate the relationship among Wip1, active p38 MAPK, p53, and p16 proteins. In our experiments, Wip1 mRNA was significantly upregulated in 7 of 20 (35%) invasive breast cancer samples. Overexpression of Wip1 was inversely correlated with that of active (phosphor-) p38 MAPK (P = 0.007). Furthermore, Wip1-overexpressing tumors exhibited no or low levels of p16, which normally accumulates upon p38 MAPK activation (P = 0.057). Loss of p16 expression was not associated with hypermethylation of its promoter or loss of heterozygosity on 9p21. Among the 135 primary breast carcinomas further examined, a significant association was found between the Wip1 overexpression and negative staining for p53 (P value = 0.057), indicating that the tumors are wild-type for p53. This is first report showing that Wip1 overexpression abrogates the homeostatic balance maintained through the p38-p53-Wip1 pathway, and contributes to malignant progression by inactivating wild-type p53 and p38 MAPK as well as decreasing p16 protein levels in human breast tissues.
To evaluate the potential association between p53 codon 72 polymorphism and sporadic colorectal adenocarcinoma development,and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
One-hundred and nine controls and 53 patients with colon cancer from the city of La Plata, Argentina were analyzed. p53 codon 72 genotypes and HPV infection were identified using allele-specific polymerase chain reaction and nested polymerase chain reaction, respectively.
The differences in the distribution of p53 codon 72 polymorphism between the cases and controls were statistically significant. The arginine allele had a prevalence of 0.65 in controls and 0.77 in cases. The corresponding odds ratio for the homozygous arginine genotype was 2.08 (95% CI, 1.06-4.05; P<0.05). Lack of association was found between p53 polymorphism and HPV infection in the set of adenocarcinomas.
The findings of the present study indicate that p53 codon 72 arginine homozygous genotype may represent a genetic predisposing factor for colon cancer development. However,further studies are needed in order to elucidate the role of p53 codon 72 polymorphism in colorectal cancer.
Proteins encoded by the mdm2 gene, which has a pivotal role in the regulation of growth and differentiation, exist principally in human and murine cells as two isoforms that migrate in gels as 75-kDa and 90-kDa proteins. There is limited understanding of the respective biological roles of these isoforms, their molecular nature, and their mechanism of formation. We report here that human p75(MDM2) is an N-terminally truncated mixture of protein isoforms produced by the initiation of translation at two distinct internal AUG codons. The p75(MDM2) doublets and p90(MDM2), which is the full-length MDM2 protein, are expressed in approximately equal amounts from transcripts initiated at the constitutive P1 promoter of mdm2. Unlike murine transcripts initiated at the p53-activated P2 promoter, human cell transcripts initiated at the P2 promoter preferentially produce p90(MDM2). The ubiquitin enzyme variant protein TSG101, which interacts functionally with MDM2 in an autoregulatory loop that parallels the p53/MDM2 feedback control loop, interferes with degradation of both isoforms; however, only p90(MDM2) promotes proteolysis of TSG101 and p53. Our results reveal the mechanism of formation of the principal MDM2 isoforms, the differential effects of p53 on the production of these isoforms, and the differential abilities of human MDM2 isoforms as regulators of the MDM2/TSG101 and p53/MDM2 feedback control loops.
The impact of NGFI-A binding protein 2 (NAB2)-signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) fusion on the biological behavior and the mechanism of acquisition of malignant phenotype in solitary fibrous tumor (SFT) is not well understood. We examined variations of the NAB2-STAT6 fusion gene in 40 cases of SFT using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues and secondary genetic alterations of tumor protein p53 (TP53),, platelet-derived growth factor receptor, β polypeptide (PDGFRB), and telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoters. These gene variations were compared with the clinicopathological features. The 2-year and 5-year disease-free survival rates (DFSRs) were 91% and 83%, respectively. All 40 samples demonstrated nuclear staining for STAT6, including CD34-negative cases. Moreover, p53-positive staining was associated with a lower DFSR and was significantly associated with higher Ki-67 label index, higher mitotic rate (mitosis, >4/high-power field), and the presence of nuclear atypia/pleomorphism. NAB2-STAT6 fusions were detected in all of the cases; the NAB2 exon 4-STAT6 exon 2, the most common genotype, appeared in 18 cases, which was associated with thoracic tumor location and the less aggressive phenotype. In contrast, tumors with NAB2 exon 6-STAT6 exon 16/18 demonstrated an aggressive phenotype. Mutations in TP53 and PDGFRB were detected in 2 and 3 cases respectively, and these occurred in a mutually exclusive fashion. TERT promoter hot spot mutations were observed in 5 cases, which were associated with shorter DFSR. Two dedifferentiated SFT cases harbored both TP53 and TERT promoter mutations. TP53 mutations, which result in its overexpression, in combination with TERT promoter mutations seem to play an important role in the dedifferentiation process.