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Neoplasia. 1999 Aug;1(3):276-84.

Role for p53 in the recovery of transcription and protection against apoptosis induced by ultraviolet light.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0936, USA. bcmckay@umich.edu


We have previously suggested that the inhibition of RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription after exposure to UV light promotes the accumulation of p53 and the induction of apoptosis (Oncogene 13, 823-831). However, it was not clear whether p53 induction was contributing to apoptosis. Here we report that apoptosis is triggered at lower UV doses in p53-deficient Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) and human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 expressing fibroblasts than in normal cells, suggesting that p53 can be protective against UV-induced apoptosis. There is no significant difference in the effect of UV-irradiation on the cell cycle distribution of normal and primary LFS fibroblasts. Importantly, the recovery of nascent mRNA synthesis in all p53-deficient fibroblasts is significantly impaired compared with control cells after exposure to relevant doses of UV light. Taken together, our results suggest that wild-type p53 can protect cells against UV-induced apoptosis by facilitating the recovery of transcription. Furthermore, we suggest that the capacity of cells to recover transcription after genotoxic damage is an important determinant of sensitivity to apoptosis.

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