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1.  High levels of Hdmx promote cell growth in a subset of uveal melanomas 
The p53 tumor suppressor pathway is inactivated in cancer either via direct mutation or via deregulation of upstream regulators or downstream effectors. P53 mutations are rare in uveal melanoma. Here we investigated the role of the p53 inhibitor Hdmx in uveal melanoma. We found Hdmx over-expression in a subset of uveal melanoma cell lines and fresh-frozen tumor samples. Hdmx depletion resulted in cell-line dependent growth inhibition, apparently correlating with differential Hdm2 levels. Surprisingly, p53 knockdown hardly rescued cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction upon Hdmx knockdown, whereas it effectively prevented growth suppression induced by the potent p53 activator Nutlin-3. In addition, two compounds inhibiting Hdmx function or expression, SAH-p53-8 and XI-011, also elicited a growth inhibitory effect in a partly p53-independent manner. These findings suggest a novel, growth-promoting function of Hdmx that does not rely on its ability to inhibit p53. We provide evidence for a contribution of p27 protein induction to the observed p53-independent G1 arrest in response to Hdmx knockdown. In conclusion, our study establishes the importance of Hdmx as an oncogene in a subset of uveal melanomas and widens the spectrum of its function beyond p53 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3433101  PMID: 22957303
Uveal melanoma; Hdmx; p53; Nutlin-3; p27; SAH-p53-8; XI-011; retinoblastoma
2.  Oncogenic functions of hMDMX in in vitro transformation of primary human fibroblasts and embryonic retinoblasts 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:111.
Background
In around 50% of all human cancers the tumor suppressor p53 is mutated. It is generally assumed that in the remaining tumors the wild-type p53 protein is functionally impaired. The two main inhibitors of p53, hMDM2 (MDM2) and hMDMX (MDMX/MDM4) are frequently overexpressed in wild-type p53 tumors. Whereas the main activity of hMDM2 is to degrade p53 protein, its close homolog hMDMX does not degrade p53, but it represses its transcriptional activity. Here we study the role of hMDMX in the neoplastic transformation of human fibroblasts and embryonic retinoblasts, since a high number of retinoblastomas contain elevated hMDMX levels.
Methods
We made use of an in vitro transformation model using a retroviral system of RNA interference and gene overexpression in primary human fibroblasts and embryonic retinoblasts. Consecutive knockdown of RB and p53, overexpression of SV40-small t, oncogenic HRasV12 and HA-hMDMX resulted in a number of stable cell lines representing different stages of the transformation process, enabling a comparison between loss of p53 and hMDMX overexpression. The cell lines were tested in various assays to assess their oncogenic potential.
Results
Both p53-knockdown and hMDMX overexpression accelerated proliferation and prevented growth suppression induced by introduction of oncogenic Ras, which was required for anchorage-independent growth and the ability to form tumors in vivo. Furthermore, we found that hMDMX overexpression represses basal p53 activity to some extent. Transformed fibroblasts with very high levels of hMDMX became largely resistant to the p53 reactivating drug Nutlin-3. The Nutlin-3 response of hMDMX transformed retinoblasts was intact and resembled that of retinoblastoma cell lines.
Conclusions
Our studies show that hMDMX has the essential properties of an oncogene. Its constitutive expression contributes to the oncogenic phenotype of transformed human cells. Its main function appears to be p53 inactivation. Therefore, developing new drugs targeting hMDMX is a valid approach to obtain new treatments for a subset of human tumors expressing wild-type p53.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-111
PMCID: PMC3179748  PMID: 21910853
Transformation model; p53 pathway; tumorigenesis; hMDMX; hMDM2; retinoblastoma; Nutlin-3

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