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Cancer Res. 2004 Apr 1;64(7):2350-6.

p53-induced up-regulation of MnSOD and GPx but not catalase increases oxidative stress and apoptosis.

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Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4255, USA.


p53-mediated apoptosis may involve the induction of redox-controlling genes, resulting in the production of reactive oxygen species. Microarray expression analysis of doxorubicin exposed, related human lymphoblasts, p53 wild-type (WT) Tk6, and p53 mutant WTK1 identified the p53-dependent up-regulation of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) and glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPx). Consensus p53 binding sequences were identified in human MnSOD and GPx promoter regions. A 3-fold increase in the MnSOD promoter activity was observed after the induction of p53 in Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) fibroblast, TR9-7, expressing p53 under the control of a tetracycline-regulated promoter. An increased protein expression of endogenous MnSOD and GPx also positively correlated with the level of p53 induction in TR9-7 cells. However, catalase (CAT) protein expression remained unaltered after p53 induction. We also examined the expression of MnSOD, GPx, and CAT in a panel of normal or LFS fibroblasts, containing either WT or mutant p53. We found increased MnSOD enzymatic activity, MnSOD mRNA expression, and MnSOD and GPx protein in LFS fibroblasts carrying a WT p53 allele when compared with homozygous mutant p53 isogenic cells. The CAT protein level was unchanged in these cells. We observed both the release of cytochrome C and Ca(2+) from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm and an increased frequency of apoptotic cells after p53 induction in the TR9-7 cells that coincided with an increased expression of MnSOD and GPx, and the level of reactive oxygen species. The increase in apoptosis was reduced by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. These results identify a novel mechanism of p53-dependent apoptosis in which p53-mediated up-regulation of MnSOD and GPx, but not CAT, produces an imbalance in antioxidant enzymes and oxidative stress.

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