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Mol Carcinog. 1996 May;16(1):20-31.

Induction of p53 and p21/WAF1/CIP1 expression by nitric oxide and their association with apoptosis in human cancer cells.

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Institute of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Republic of China.


In this study, human and rat cancer cells were used to investigate the expression of p53 and p21/WAF1/CIP1 and their association with apoptosis after exposure to nitric oxide (NO). It was found that NO induced nuclear accumulation of p53 protein in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The level of p53 protein was elevated by about fivefold compared with that of mock-treated cells 48 h after exposure to 300 ppm NO. The induction of p53 by NO was found by pulse-chase analysis to be mainly regulated by post-translational modification. The correlation between p53 status and apoptosis induced by NO in human cancer cells was also investigated in this study. We found that apoptosis was easily induced in cells containing wild-type p53 (COLO 205 and Hep G2) after exposure to NO. The p21/WAF1/CIP1 protein was induced by NO in cells containing wild-type p53 (Hep G2) but not in cells without p53 (Hep 3B) or with mutated p53 (HT-29). Our results indicate that wild-type p53 and p21/WAF1/CIP1 expression was elevated in human cancer cells by exposure to NO and suggest that this may eventually promote apoptosis.

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