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Mol Cancer. 2007 Feb 14;6:16.

Attenuation of PTEN increases p21 stability and cytosolic localization in kidney cancer cells: a potential mechanism of apoptosis resistance.

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Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.



The PTEN (Phosphatase and Tensin homolog deleted on chromosome Ten) tumor suppressor gene is frequently mutated or deleted in a wide variety of solid tumors, and these cancers are generally more aggressive and difficult to treat than those possessing wild type PTEN. While PTEN lies upstream of the phosphoinositide-3 kinase signaling pathway, the mechanisms that mediate its effects on tumor survival remain incompletely understood. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is associated with frequent treatment failures (approximately 90% in metastatic cases), and these tumors frequently contain PTEN abnormalities.


Using the ACHN cell line containing wild type PTEN, we generated a stable PTEN knockdown RCC cell line using RNA interference. We then used this PTEN knockdown cell line to show that PTEN attenuation increases resistance to cisplatin-induced apoptosis, a finding associated with increased levels of the cyclin kinase inhibitor p21. Elevated levels of p21 result from stabilization of the protein, and they are dependent on the activities of phosphoinositide-3 kinase and Akt. More specifically, the accumulation of p21 occurs preferentially in the cytosolic compartment, which likely contributes to both cell cycle progression and resistance to apoptosis.


Since p21 regulates a decision point between repair and apoptosis after DNA damage, our data suggest that p21 plays a key role in mechanisms used by PTEN-deficient tumors to escape chemotherapy. This in turn raises the possibility to use p21 attenuators as chemotherapy sensitizers, an area under active continuing investigation in our laboratories.

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