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Cell Death Differ. 1999 Mar;6(3):271-80.

p53-mediated up-regulation of CD95 is not involved in genotoxic drug-induced apoptosis of human breast tumor cells.

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Instituto de Parasitología y Biomedicina, CSIC, calle Ventanilla 11, 18001 Granada, Spain.


Induction of CD95 (Fas/APO-1) and CD95 ligand during chemotherapeutic treatment may contribute to the death by apoptosis of some tumor cells. In this study, we have analyzed the role of the CD95 system in genotoxic drug-induced death of human breast tumor cells. Incubation of the breast tumor cell lines MCF-7 and EVSA-T with doxorubicin or methotrexate caused apoptosis after 48 h of treatment. These drugs induced a marked increase in the level of CD95 mRNA and protein in wild-type p53-expressing MCF-7 cells. On the contrary, the breast cancer cell line EVSA-T that expresses high levels of an inactive form of p53, did not up-regulate CD95 upon drug treatment. Elevation of CD95 expression by DNA-damaging drugs was notably blocked in MCF-7 cells expressing the human papillomavirus type 16 E6 protein (E6 cells) which prevented p53 accumulation upon DNA damage. However, E6 cells were still killed by the drugs. Furthermore, the genotoxic drugs did not induce the expression of CD95 ligand in MCF-7 cells at doses that caused apoptosis in these breast tumor cells. Moreover, drug-induced apoptosis of breast tumor cells was not prevented in the presence of either a CD95 antagonistic antibody or a CD95 ligand blocking antibody. We also observed a strong synergism between lower doses of DNA-damaging drugs and CD95 agonistic antibody in the induction of apoptosis in MCF-7 cells. In summary, our data indicate that drug-induced apoptosis of breast tumor cells occurs by a CD95/CD95L-independent mechanism although by elevating the tumor suppressor proteins p53 and CD95, genotoxic drugs may sensitize breast tumor cells to CD95-mediated apoptosis.

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