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Transient expression of the tumor suppressor gene p53 via adenoviral-mediated gene transfer induces apoptosis in glioma cells expressing mutant p53, while causing cell cycle arrest in cells with wild-type p53. To determine whether a change in p53 status of a wild-type p53-expressing cell line such as U-87 MG would alter its apoptotic resistant phenotype in response to Ad-p53 infection, we generated cell lines U-87-175.4 and U-87-175.13 via retroviral-mediated gene transfer of the p53 (175H) mutant into the U-87 MG parental line. Control cell lines U-87-Lux.6 and U-87-Lux.8 were also generated and express the reporter gene luciferase. Both U-87-175.4 and U-87-175.13, but not control cell lines, exhibited morphology characteristic of apoptosis after Ad-p53 infection. Furthermore, expression of other p53 mutants (248W, 273H) in U-87 MG also sensitized cells to Ad-p53-induced apoptosis. Apoptosis was confirmed by TUNEL and cell cycle analysis. Several p53 response genes were examined in cells infected with Ad-p53, and among these, BCL2, p21WAF1/CIP1, CPP32/caspase 3, and PARP showed differences in expression between U87-175 and U87-Lux cell lines. Taken together, our data demonstrate that the introduction of p53 mutants in U-87 MG promotes an apoptotic response in association with adenoviral-mediated wild-type p53 gene transfer. These results underscore the importance of glioma p53 genotype for predicting tumor response to p53-based gene therapy.