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Science. 1994 Nov 4;266(5186):807-10.

p53 status and the efficacy of cancer therapy in vivo.

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Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


The therapeutic responsiveness of genetically defined tumors expressing or devoid of the p53 tumor suppressor gene was compared in immunocompromised mice. Tumors expressing the p53 gene contained a high proportion of apoptotic cells and typically regressed after treatment with gamma radiation or adriamycin. In contrast, p53-deficient tumors treated with the same regimens continued to enlarge and contained few apoptotic cells. Acquired mutations in p53 were associated with both treatment resistance and relapse in p53-expressing tumors. These results establish that defects in apoptosis, here caused by the inactivation of p53, can produce treatment-resistant tumors and suggest that p53 status may be an important determinant of tumor response to therapy.

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