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Oncogene. 2005 Jan 20;24(4):605-15.

Interferons alpha and gamma induce p53-dependent and p53-independent apoptosis, respectively.

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UPR CNRS 9045, Institut André Lwoff, 7 rue Guy Moquet, 94801 Villejuif, France.


Type I interferon (IFN) enhances the transcription of the tumor suppressor gene p53. To elucidate the molecular mechanism mediating IFN-induced apoptosis, we analysed programmed cell death in response to type I (IFNalpha) or type II (IFNgamma) treatment in relation to p53 status. In two cell lines (MCF-7, SKNSH), IFNalpha, but not IFNgamma, enhanced apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner. Furthermore, only IFNalpha upregulated p53 as well as p53 target genes (Noxa, Mdm2 and CD95). The apoptotic response to IFNalpha decreased in the presence of ZB4, an anti-CD95 antibody, suggesting that CD95 is involved in this process. When p53 was inactivated by the E6 viral protein or the expression of a p53 mutant, IFNalpha-induced apoptosis and p53 target genes upregulation were abrogated. Altogether these results demonstrate that p53 plays a pivotal role in the IFNalpha-induced apoptotic response. IFNalpha-induced PML was unable to recruit p53 into nuclear bodies and its downregulation by siRNA did not alter CD95 expression. In contrast, IFNgamma-induced apoptosis is p53-independent. CD95 and IFN-regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) are directly upregulated by this cytokine. Apoptotic response to IFNgamma is decreased in the presence of ZB4 and strongly diminished by IRF1 siRNA, implicating both CD95 and IRF1 in IFNgamma-induced apoptotic response. Taken together, these results show that in two different cell lines, IFNalpha and IFNgamma, induce p53-dependent -independent apoptosis, respectively.

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