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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 31;278(44):43586-94. Epub 2003 Aug 19.

p21-dependent inhibition of colon cancer cell growth by mevastatin is independent of inhibition of G1 cyclin-dependent kinases.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Mevastatin arrested HCT116 colon cancer cells at the G1/S transition and increased cellular levels of p21CIP1/WAF1. p21-deficient colon cancer cells continued to proliferate in the presence of mevastatin. Although p21 was necessary for the G1/S block, the G1 cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) cyclin E-Cdk2 and cyclin D-Cdk4 remained active. Despite the activity of the G1 Cdks the retinoblastoma protein was hypophosphorylated due to unknown mechanisms that were dependent on the p21 protein. The resulting decrease in cyclin A mRNA and protein led to a decrease in the activity of cyclin A-Cdk2. Therefore, although p21 was required for the G1/S arrest of HCT116 colon cancer cells by mevastatin, its mode of action was more complicated than the simple formation of a physical complex with cyclin-Cdk2. This mechanism of inhibition is different from that seen in prostate cancer cells (Ukomadu, C., and Dutta, A. (2003) J. Biol. Chem. 278, 4840-4846) where the activating phosphorylation of cyclin E-Cdk2 is suppressed and p21 is not required, suggesting the existence of cell line-specific differences in the mechanism by which statins arrest the cell cycle.

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