The coculture of cells expressing the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein complex (Env) with cells expressing CD4 results into cell fusion, deregulated mitosis, and subsequent cell death. Here, we show that NF-kappaB, p53, and AP1 are activated in Env-elicited apoptosis. The nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) super repressor had an antimitotic and antiapoptotic effect and prevented the Env-elicited phosphorylation of p53 on serine 15 and 46, as well as the activation of AP1. Transfection with dominant-negative p53 abolished apoptosis and AP1 activation. Signs of NF-kappaB and p53 activation were also detected in lymph node biopsies from HIV-1-infected individuals. Microarrays revealed that most (85%) of the transcriptional effects of HIV-1 Env were blocked by the p53 inhibitor pifithrin-alpha. Macroarrays led to the identification of several Env-elicited, p53-dependent proapoptotic transcripts, in particular Puma, a proapoptotic "BH3-only" protein from the Bcl-2 family known to activate Bax/Bak. Down modulation of Puma by antisense oligonucleotides, as well as RNA interference of Bax and Bak, prevented Env-induced apoptosis. HIV-1-infected primary lymphoblasts up-regulated Puma in vitro. Moreover, circulating CD4+ lymphocytes from untreated, HIV-1-infected donors contained enhanced amounts of Puma protein, and these elevated Puma levels dropped upon antiretroviral therapy. Altogether, these data indicate that NF-kappaB and p53 cooperate as the dominant proapoptotic transcription factors participating in HIV-1 infection.
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.
As complete absence of germ cells leads to sterile males in zebrafish, we explored the relationship between primordial germ cell (PGC) number and sexual development. Our results revealed dimorphic proliferation of PGCs in the early zebrafish larvae, marking the beginning of sexual differentiation. We applied morpholino-based gene knockdown and cell transplantation strategies to demonstrate that a threshold number of PGCs is required for the stability of ovarian fate. Using histology and transcriptomic analyses, we determined that zebrafish gonads are in a meiotic ovarian stage at 14 days postfertilization and identified signaling pathways supporting meiotic oocyte differentiation and eventual female fate. The development of PGC-depleted gonads appears to be restrained and delayed, suggesting that PGC number may directly regulate the variability and length of gonadal transformation and testicular differentiation in zebrafish. We propose that gonadal transformation may function as a developmental buffering mechanism to ensure the reproductive outcome.
Interferon γ (IFN-γ)-induced cell death is mediated by the BH3-only domain protein, Bik, in a p53-independent manner. However, the effect of IFN-γ on p53 and how this affects autophagy have not been reported. The present study demonstrates that IFN-γ down-regulated expression of the BH3 domain-only protein, Bmf, in human and mouse airway epithelial cells in a p53-dependent manner. p53 also suppressed Bmf expression in response to other cell death-stimulating agents, including ultraviolet radiation and histone deacetylase inhibitors. IFN-γ did not affect Bmf messenger RNA half-life but increased nuclear p53 levels and the interaction of p53 with the Bmf promoter. IFN-γ-induced interaction of HDAC1 and p53 resulted in the deacetylation of p53 and suppression of Bmf expression independent of p53's proline-rich domain. Suppression of Bmf facilitated IFN-γ-induced autophagy by reducing the interaction of Beclin-1 and Bcl-2. Furthermore, autophagy was prominent in cultured bmf(-/-) but not in bmf(+/+) cells. Collectively, these observations show that deacetylation of p53 suppresses Bmf expression and facilitates autophagy.