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Cancer Res. 1999 Jul 1;59(13):3053-8.

Arsenic induces apoptosis through a c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase-dependent, p53-independent pathway.

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  • 1The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, Austin 55912, USA.


Arsenic has been used as an effective chemotherapy agent for some human cancers, such as acute promyelocytic leukemia. In this study, we found that arsenic induces activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNKs) at a similar dose range for induction of apoptosis in JB6 cells. In addition, we found that arsenic did not induce p53-dependent transactivation. Similarly, there was no difference in apoptosis induction between cells with p53 +/+ or p53 -/-. In contrast, arsenic-induced apoptosis was almost totally blocked by expression of a dominant-negative mutant of JNK1. These results suggest that the activation of JNKs is involved in arsenic-induced apoptosis of JB6 cells. Taken together with previous findings that p53 mutations are involved in approximately 50% of all human cancers and nearly all chemotherapeutic agents kill cancer cells mainly by apoptotic induction, we suggest that arsenic may be a useful agent for the treatment of cancers with p53 mutation.

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