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Upregulated p53 expression activates apoptotic pathways in wild-type p53-bearing mesothelioma and enhances cytotoxicity of cisplatin and pemetrexed


The majority of malignant mesothelioma possesses the wild-type p53 gene with a homologous deletion of the INK4A/ARF locus containing the p14ARF and the p16INK4A genes. We examined whether forced expression of p53 inhibited growth of mesothelioma cells and produced anti-tumor effects by a combination of cisplatin (CDDP) or pemetrexed (PEM), the first-line drugs for mesothelioma treatments. Transduction of mesothelioma cells with adenoviruses bearing the p53 gene (Ad-p53) induced phosphorylation of p53, upregulated Mdm2 and p21 expression levels and decreased phosphorylation of pRb. The transduction generated cleavage of caspase-8 and -3, but not caspase-9. Cell cycle analysis showed increased G0/G1- or G2/M-phase populations and subsequently sub-G1 fractions, depending on cell types and Ad-p53 doses. Transduction with Ad-p53 suppressed viability of mesothelioma cells and augmented the growth inhibition by CDDP or PEM mostly in a synergistic manner. Intrapleural injection of Ad-p53 and systemic administration of CDDP produced anti-tumor effects in an orthotopic animal model. These data collectively suggest that Ad-p53 is a possible agent for mesothelioma in combination with the first-line chemotherapeutics.

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This work was partly supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, the Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan and a Grant-in-aid from the Nichias Corporation.

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Correspondence to M Tagawa.

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Li, Q., Kawamura, K., Yamanaka, M. et al. Upregulated p53 expression activates apoptotic pathways in wild-type p53-bearing mesothelioma and enhances cytotoxicity of cisplatin and pemetrexed. Cancer Gene Ther 19, 218–228 (2012).

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  • malignant mesothelioma
  • adenovirus
  • p53
  • chemotherapy

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