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J Cell Sci. 2008 Mar 1;121(Pt 5):664-74. doi: 10.1242/jcs.013029. Epub 2008 Feb 12.

Mechanisms underlying p53 regulation of PIK3CA transcription in ovarian surface epithelium and in ovarian cancer.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Inactivation of the transcription factor and tumor suppressor p53, and overexpression or mutational activation of PIK3CA, which encodes the p110alpha catalytic subunit of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K), are two of the most common deleterious genomic changes in cancer, including in ovarian carcinomas. We investigated molecular mechanisms underlying interactions between these two mediators and their possible roles in ovarian tumorigenesis. We identified two alternate PIK3CA promoters and showed direct binding of and transcriptional inhibition by p53 to one of these promoters. Conditional suppression of functional p53 increased p110alpha transcripts, protein levels and PI3K activity in immortalized, non-tumorigenic ovarian surface epithelial (OSE) cells, the precursors of ovarian carcinoma. Conversely, overexpression of p53 by adenoviral infection and activation of p53 by gamma-irradiation both diminished p110alpha protein levels in normal OSE and ovarian cancer cells. The demonstration that p53 binds directly to the PIK3CA promoter and inhibits its activity identifies a novel mechanism whereby these two mediators regulate cellular functions, and whereby inactivation of p53 and subsequent upregulation of PIK3CA might contribute to the pathophysiology of ovarian cancer.

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