Differential p53 phosphorylation and activation of apoptosis-promoting genes Bax and Fas/APO-1 by irradiation and ara-C treatment

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Abstract

In this study, we examined the effects of radiation and ara-C on induction of apoptosis and on the apoptosis-promoting genes p53, Bax and Fas/APO-1, in BV173 human leukemia cells, which harbor the wild-type p53 gene. It has been reported that p53 upregulates Fas/APO-1 and Bax expression. Both irradiation and ara-C treatment resulted in apoptosis and induction of p53 proteins within hours. The Bax gene was activated in irradiated and ara-C-treated BV173 cells, but Fas/APO-1 was induced only in irradiated BV173 cells. Radiation and ara-C treatment did not induce Bax or Fas/APO-1 protein expression in p53-null HL60 cells. Radiation weakly induced Fas/APO-1 expression in KBM-7 cells, which harbor a partially defective p53 gene. Both HL60 and KBM-7 cells are more resistant to radiation- and ara-C-induced apoptosis than BV173 cells. These results suggest that functional p53 is necessary for the activation of Bax and Fas/APO-1 expression. However, elevated p53 protein is not sufficient to activate Fas/APO-1 gene expression in ara-C-treated cells. Using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, we found that the p53 proteins in irradiated and ara-C-treated BV173 cells have different isoelectric points; they converged to a single isoelectric point after in vitro treatment with phosphatase. These results suggest that different genotoxic treatments cause different phosphorylations of p53, which may account for the different levels of activation of Fas/APO-1 expression.

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Correspondence to Wei Zhang.

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Edited by D. Green

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Kobayashi, T., Ruan, S., Jabbur, J. et al. Differential p53 phosphorylation and activation of apoptosis-promoting genes Bax and Fas/APO-1 by irradiation and ara-C treatment. Cell Death Differ 5, 584–591 (1998) doi:10.1038/sj.cdd.4400382

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Keywords

  • p53 phosphorylation
  • apoptosis
  • irradiation
  • ara-C

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