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Cell Death Differ. 2007 Mar;14(3):411-21. Epub 2006 Aug 18.

Hypoxia induces p53-dependent transactivation and Fas/CD95-dependent apoptosis.

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Department of Oncology-Pathology, Cancer Center Karolinska, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


p53 triggers apoptosis in response to cellular stress. We analyzed p53-dependent gene and protein expression in response to hypoxia using wild-type p53-carrying or p53 null HCT116 colon carcinoma cells. Hypoxia induced p53 protein levels and p53-dependent apoptosis in these cells. cDNA microarray analysis revealed that only a limited number of genes were regulated by p53 upon hypoxia. Most classical p53 target genes were not upregulated. However, we found that Fas/CD95 was significantly induced in response to hypoxia in a p53-dependent manner, along with several novel p53 target genes including ANXA1, DDIT3/GADD153 (CHOP), SEL1L and SMURF1. Disruption of Fas/CD95 signalling using anti-Fas-blocking antibody or a caspase 8 inhibitor abrogated p53-induced apoptosis in response to hypoxia. We conclude that hypoxia triggers a p53-dependent gene expression pattern distinct from that induced by other stress agents and that Fas/CD95 is a critical regulator of p53-dependent apoptosis upon hypoxia.

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