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Oncogene. 1997 Nov 13;15(20):2429-37.

p53-induced apoptosis in the human T-ALL cell line CCRF-CEM.

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Institute for General and Experimental Pathology, Division of Molecular Pathophysiology, University of Innsbruck, Austria.


The tumor suppressor p53 has been implicated in apoptosis induction and is mutated in human T-ALL CCRF-CEM cells. To investigate possible consequences of wild-type p53 loss, we reconstituted CEM-C7H2, a subclone of CCRF-CEM, with a temperature-sensitive p53 allele (p53ts). Stably transfected lines expressed high levels of p53ts and shift to the permissive temperature (32 degrees C) caused rapid induction of p53-regulated genes, such as p21(CIP1/WAF1), mdm-2 and bax. This was followed by extensive apoptosis within 24 h to 36 h, supporting the notion that mutational p53 inactivation contributed to the malignant phenotype. p53-dependent apoptosis was preceded by digestion of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, a typical target of interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme (ICE)-like proteases/caspases, and was markedly resistant to the ICE/caspase-1 and FLICE/caspase-8 inhibitor acetyl-Tyr-Val-Ala-Asp.chloromethylketone (YVAD), but sensitive to the CPP32/caspase-3 inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp.fluoromethylketone (DEVD) and benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp.fluoromethylketone (zVAD), a caspase inhibitor with broader specificity. This indicated an essential involvement of caspases, but argued against a significant role of ICE/caspase-1 or FLICE/caspase-8. Actinomycin D or cycloheximide prevented cell death, suggesting that, in this system, p53-induced apoptosis depends upon macromolecule biosynthesis. Introduction of functional p53 into CEM cells enhanced their sensitivity to the DNA-damaging agent doxorubicin, but not to the tubulin-active compound vincristine. Thus, mutational p53 inactivation in ALL might entail relative resistance to DNA-damaging, but not to tubulin-destabilizing, chemotherapy.

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