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1.  p53 mediated senescence impairs the apoptotic response to chemotherapy and clinical outcome in breast cancer 
Cancer Cell  2012;21(6):793-806.
Studies on the role of TP53 mutation in breast cancer response to chemotherapy are conflicting. Here, we show that, contrary to dogma, MMTV-Wnt1 mammary tumors with mutant p53 exhibited a superior clinical response compared to tumors with wild-type p53. Doxorubicin-treated p53-mutant tumors failed to arrest proliferation leading to abnormal mitoses and cell death, while p53 wild-type tumors arrested, avoiding mitotic catastrophe. Senescent tumor cells persisted, secreting senescence-associated cytokines that exhibited autocrine/paracrine activity and mitogenic potential. Wild-type p53 still mediated arrest and inhibited drug response even in the context of a heterozygous p53 point mutation or absence of p21. Thus, we show wild-type p53 activity hinders chemotherapy response and demonstrate the need to reassess the paradigm for p53 in cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3376352  PMID: 22698404
2.  Multiple stress signals activate mutant p53 in vivo 
Cancer Research  2011;71(23):7168-7175.
p53 levels are tightly regulated in normal cells, and thus the wild-type p53 protein is nearly undetectable until stimulated through a variety of stresses. In response to stress, p53 is released from its negative regulators, mainly Mdm2, allowing p53 to be stabilized to activate cell cycle arrest, senescence, and apoptosis programs. Many of the upstream signals that regulate wild type p53 are known; however, limited information for the regulation of mutant p53 exists. Previously, we demonstrated that wild-type and mutant p53R172H are regulated in a similar manner in the absence of Mdm2 or p16. Additionally, this stabilization of mutant p53 is responsible for the gain-of-function metastatic phenotype observed in the mouse. In this report, we examined the role of oncogenes, DNA damage, and reactive oxygen species, signals that stabilize wild type p53, on the stabilization of mutant p53 in vivo and the consequences of this expression on tumor formation and survival. These factors stabilized mutant p53 protein which often times contributed to exacerbated tumor phenotypes. These findings, coupled with the fact that patients carry p53 mutations without stabilization of p53, suggest that personalized therapeutic schemes may be needed for individual patients depending on their p53 status.
PMCID: PMC3320147  PMID: 21983037
3.  Mdm2 is required for survival of hematopoietic stem cells/progenitors via dampening of ROS-induced p53 activity 
Cell stem cell  2010;7(5):606-617.
Mdm2 is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets p53 for degradation. p53515C (encoding p53R172P) is a hypomorphic allele of p53 that rescues the embryonic lethality of Mdm2−/− mice. Mdm2−/− p53515C/515C mice, however, die by postnatal day 13 due to hematopoietic failure. Hematopoietic stem cells and progenitors of Mdm2−/− p53515C/515C mice were normal in fetal livers but were depleted in postnatal bone marrows. After birth, these mice had elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) thus activating p53R172P. In the absence of Mdm2, stable p53R172P induced ROS, and cell cycle arrest, senescence and cell death in the hematopoietic compartment. This phenotype was partially rescued with antioxidant treatment and upon culturing of hematopoietic cells in methycellulose at 3% oxygen. p16 was also stabilized due to ROS, and its loss increased cell cycling, and partially rescued hematopoiesis and survival. Thus, Mdm2 is required to control ROS-induced p53 levels for sustainable hematopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC3026610  PMID: 21040902
hematopoietic stem cells; Mdm2; p53; reactive oxygen species; p16
4.  A high-frequency regulatory polymorphism in the p53 pathway accelerates tumor development 
Cancer cell  2010;18(3):220-230.
MDM2, a negative regulator of p53, is elevated in many cancers that retain wild-type p53. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the human MDM2 promoter increases the affinity of Sp1 resulting in elevated MDM2 levels. We generated mice carrying either the MDM2SNP309T or the MDM2SNP309G allele to address the impact of MDM2SNP309G on tumorigenesis. Mdm2SNP309G/G cells exhibit elevated Mdm2 levels, reduced p53 levels, and decreased apoptosis. Importantly, some Mdm2SNP309G/G mice succumbed to tumors before one year of age, suggesting that this allele increases tumor risk. Additionally, the Mdm2SNP309G allele potentiates the tumor phenotype and alters tumor spectrum in mice inheriting a p53 hot-spot mutation. These data provide causal evidence for increased cancer risk in carriers of the Mdm2SNP309G allele.
PMCID: PMC2944041  PMID: 20832750
6.  Restoring expression of wild-type p53 suppresses tumor growth but does not cause tumor regression in mice with a p53 missense mutation  
The transcription factor p53 is a tumor suppressor. As such, the P53 gene is frequently altered in human cancers. However, over 80% of the P53 mutations found in human cancers are missense mutations that lead to expression of mutant proteins that not only lack p53 transcriptional activity but exhibit new functions as well. Recent studies show that restoration of p53 expression leads to tumor regression in mice carrying p53 deletions. However, the therapeutic efficacy of restoring p53 expression in tumors containing p53 missense mutations has not been evaluated. Here we demonstrate that restoring wild-type p53 expression halted tumor growth in mice inheriting a p53R172H missense mutation that is equivalent to a P53 missense mutation detected in approximately 6% of human cancers. However, it did not lead to tumor regression, as was observed in mice lacking p53. We further showed that the dominant-negative effect of the mutant p53 encoded by p53R172H dampened the activity of the restored wild-type p53. We therefore conclude that in a mutant p53 background, p53 restoration has the therapeutic potential to suppress tumor progression. Our findings support using p53 restoration as a strategy to treat human cancers with P53 missense mutations and provide direction for optimizing p53 restoration in cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3049366  PMID: 21285512
7.  Primary and Compensatory Roles for RB Family Members at Cell Cycle Gene Promoters That Are Deacetylated and Downregulated in Doxorubicin-Induced Senescence of Breast Cancer Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(7):2501-2510.
When treated with DNA-damaging chemotherapy agents, many cancer cells, in vivo and in vitro, undergo a terminal growth arrest and acquire a senescence-like phenotype. We investigated the molecular basis for this in breast cancer cells following a 2-hour treatment with 1 μM doxorubicin. Treated cells arrested in G1 and G2 phases of the cell cycle, with concomitant reductions in S-phase and G2-M regulatory genes. p53 and p21 protein levels increased within hours after treatment and were maintained for 5 to 6 days but were reduced 8 days posttreatment, though the cells remained growth arrested. Levels of p130 rose after drug treatment, and it was the primary RB family member recruited to the S-phase promoters cyclin A and PCNA and G2-M promoters cyclin B and cdc2, remaining present for the entire 8-day time period. In contrast, p107 protein and promoter occupancy levels declined sharply after drug treatment. RB was recruited to only the PCNA promoter. In MCF-7 cells with p130 knockdown, p107 compensated for p130 loss at all cell cycle gene promoters examined, allowing cells to retain the growth arrest phenotype. Cells with p130 and p107 knockdown similarly arrested, while cells with knockdown of all three family members failed to downregulate cyclin A and cyclin B. These results demonstrate a mechanistic role for p130 and compensatory roles for p107 and RB in the long-term senescence-like growth arrest response of breast cancer cells to DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC1430319  PMID: 16537896
8.  MRG15 Regulates Embryonic Development and Cell Proliferation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(8):2924-2937.
MRG15 is a highly conserved protein, and orthologs exist in organisms from yeast to humans. MRG15 associates with at least two nucleoprotein complexes that include histone acetyltransferases and/or histone deacetylases, suggesting it is involved in chromatin remodeling. To study the role of MRG15 in vivo, we generated knockout mice and determined that the phenotype is embryonic lethal, with embryos and the few stillborn pups exhibiting developmental delay. Immunohistochemical analysis indicates that apoptosis in Mrg15−/− embryos is not increased compared with wild-type littermates. However, the number of proliferating cells is significantly reduced in various tissues of the smaller null embryos compared with control littermates. Cell proliferation defects are also observed in Mrg15−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The hearts of the Mrg15−/− embryos exhibit some features of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The increase in size of the cardiomyocytes is most likely a response to decreased growth of the cells. Mrg15−/− embryos appeared pale, and microarray analysis revealed that α-globin gene expression was decreased in null versus wild-type embryos. We determined by chromatin immunoprecipitation that MRG15 was recruited to the α-globin promoter during dimethyl sulfoxide-induced mouse erythroleukemia cell differentiation. These findings demonstrate that MRG15 has an essential role in embryonic development via chromatin remodeling and transcriptional regulation.
PMCID: PMC1069611  PMID: 15798182

Results 1-8 (8)