Silencing of stathmin induces tumor-suppressor function in breast cancer cell lines harboring mutant p53

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Cancers harboring dominant-negative p53 mutations are often aggressive and difficult to treat. Direct attempts to restore wild-type p53 function have produced little clinical benefit. We investigated whether targeting a p53-target gene could induce certain tumor-suppressor characteristics. We found that inhibition of stathmin, a microtubule regulator that can be transcriptionally repressed by wild-type p53, restored certain wild-type functions to cancer cells with mutant p53. Silencing of stathmin by small interfering RNA (siRNA) in mutant p53 cell lines lowered expression to that observed following activation of wild-type p53 by DNA damage in wild-type p53 cell lines. siRNA-induced repression of stathmin decreased cell proliferation, viability and clonogenicity in mutant p53 cell lines. Furthermore, knockdown of stathmin partially restored cell-cycle regulation and activation of apoptosis. Therefore, targeting stathmin, a gene product that is overexpressed in the presence of mutant p53, may represent a novel approach to treating cancers with aberrant p53 function.

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