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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jun 16;275(24):18243-7.

Protection of renal inner medullary epithelial cells from apoptosis by hypertonic stress-induced p53 activation.

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NHLBI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1603 and the Whitney Laboratory, University of Florida, St. Augustine, Florida 32086-8623, USA.


Acute hypertonicity causes cell cycle delay and apoptosis in mouse renal inner medullary collecting duct cells (mIMCD3) and increases GADD45 expression. Because the tumor suppressor protein p53 may be involved in these effects, we have investigated the role of p53 in mIMCD3 response to hyperosmotic stress. Acute elevation of osmolality with NaCl addition from the control level of 320 mosmol/kg to 500-600 mosmol/kg greatly increased the levels of total and Ser(15)-phosphorylated p53 within 15 min. However, similar elevation of osmolality with urea did not increase p53 levels. Our studies indicate that induced p53 is transcriptionally active because NaCl addition to 500-600 mosmol/kg stimulated transcription of a luciferase reporter containing a p53 consensus element and appropriately altered mRNA levels of known transcriptional targets of p53, i.e. increased MDM-2 and decreased BCL-2 levels. Elevating NaCl further to 700-800 mosmol/kg rapidly killed most of the cells by apoptosis. At these higher NaCl concentrations, p53 levels were further increased although Ser(15) phosphorylation and transcriptional activity were significantly lower than levels at 500-600 mosmol/kg. At NaCl-induced 500 mosmol/kg, apoptosis was rare in the presence of control, nonspecific oligonucleotide but highly prevalent upon addition of p53 antisense oligonucleotide that substantially reduced p53 levels. We conclude that induction of active p53 in mIMCD3 cells by hypertonic stress contributes to cell survival.

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