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Cell Cycle. 2009 Oct 15;8(20):3396-405. Epub 2009 Oct 24.

Characterization of a new cancer-associated mutant of p53 with a missense mutation (K351N) in the tetramerization domain.

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  • 1Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Department of Cellular Biology and Development, Sapienza University, Italy.


Inactivation of the tumor suppressor p53 is central to carcinogenesis and acquisition of resistance to drug-induced apoptosis. The majority of alterations are missense mutations and occur within the DNA-binding domain. However, little is known about the point mutations in the tetramerization domain (TD). Here we investigated the properties of a new p53 mutant (Lys 351 to Asn) in the TD identified in a cisplatin-resistant ovarian carcinoma cell line (A2780 CIS). We found that K351N substitution significantly reduces the thermodynamic stability of p53 tetramers without affecting the overall half-life of the protein. Moreover, p53 K351N has a reduced ability to bind DNA and to trans-activate its specific target gene promoters, such as bax. Data obtained from the analysis of p53 subcellular localization revealed that K351N mutation inhibits the nuclear export of p53 and accumulation in the cytoplasm induced by cisplatin treatment. These results identify p53 K351N as a new cancer associated mutant with reduced tumor suppressor activity and altered functions in response to apoptotic stimuli.

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