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Cell Cycle. 2012 Dec 15;11(24):4552-62. doi: 10.4161/cc.22803. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

Pro- and anti-apoptotic effects of p53 in cisplatin-treated human testicular cancer are cell context-dependent.

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Department of Medical Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


In murine testicular cancer (TC) cells wild-type p53 contributes to sensitivity to DNA-damaging drugs in a dose-dependent way. In human TC, however, the role of wild-type p53 functionality in chemotherapeutic response remains elusive. We analyzed functionality of wild-type p53 in cisplatin sensitivity in the human TC setting using a p53 short interfering (si)RNA approach. The cisplatin-sensitive TC cell line (Tera), the subline with acquired cisplatin resistance (Tera-CP) and a panel of intrinsically resistant TC cell lines (Scha and 2102EP), all expressing wild-type p53, were used. p53 and p53 transcriptional targets MDM2 and p21 (Waf1/Cip1) (p21) were expressed in a p53 transactivation-dependent way in all TC cell lines. Following cisplatin exposure, expression levels of p53 increased, with a subsequent increase in MDM2 and p21 mRNA and protein levels and Fas cell membrane levels. Downregulation of p53 with siRNA lowered cisplatin-induced apoptosis in Tera and Tera-CP, which was associated with a diminished Fas membrane expression. In contrast, p53 suppression augmented cisplatin-induced apoptosis in Scha and 2102EP and concomitantly strongly suppressed MDM2 and p21 mRNA and protein expression. Our results indicate that p53 is involved in transactivation of pro- and anti-apoptotic genes in untreated and cisplatin-treated TC cells, but subtle differences are present between TC cell lines. The opposite role of p53 in cisplatin-induced apoptosis among TC cell lines demonstrates the importance of the cellular context for the p53 transactivation phenotype in TC cells.

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