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An in vitro model of folate-deficient erythropoiesis has been developed using proerythroblasts isolated from the spleens of Friend virus-infected mice fed an amino acid-based, folate-free diet. Control proerythroblasts were obtained from Friend virus-infected mice fed the same diet plus 2 mg folic acid/kg diet. Our previous studies showed that, after 20 to 32 hours of culture in folate-deficient medium with 4 U/mL of erythropoietin, the folate-deficient proerythroblasts underwent apoptosis, whereas control erythroblasts survived and differentiated into reticulocytes over a period of 48 hours. The addition of folic acid or thymidine to the folate-deficient medium prevented the apoptosis of the folate-deficient erythroblasts, thereby implicating decreased thymidylate synthesis as the main cause of apoptosis in the folate-deficient erythroblasts. In the study reported here, we examined intracellular folate levels, uracil misincorporation into DNA, p53 and p21 proteins, and reticulocyte formation in erythroblasts cultured in folate-deficient or control medium. In all experiments, the folate-deficient erythroblasts cultured in folate-deficient medium gave results that varied significantly from folate-deficient erythroblasts cultured in control medium or control erythroblasts cultured in either folate-deficient or control media. Folate-deficient erythroblasts cultured in folate-deficient medium had marked decreases in all coenzyme forms of folate that persisted throughout culture, increased uracil misincorporation into DNA, persistent accumulations of p53 and p21, and decreased reticulocyte production but increased size of individual reticulocytes. A model of folate-deficient erythropoiesis based on apoptosis of late stage erythroblasts is presented. This model provides explanations for the clinical findings in megaloblastic anemia.
We have studied the role of autocrine transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) signaling on antiestrogen-mediated growth inhibition of hormone-dependent T47D and MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells. Tamoxifen treatment increased the secretion of TGF-beta activity into serum-free cell medium and the cellular content of affinity cross-linked type I and III TGF-beta receptors in both cell lines. Anti-pan-TGF-beta antibodies did not block anti-estrogen-induced recruitment in G1 and inhibition of anchorage-dependent and -independent growth of both cell lines. Early passage MCF-7 cells, which exhibit detectable type II TGF-beta receptors at the cell surface and exquisite sensitivity to exogenous TGF-beta1, were transfected with a tetracycline-controllable dominant-negative TGF-betaRII (DeltaRII) construct. Although the TGF-beta1 response was blocked by removal of tetracycline in MCF-7/DeltaRII cells, tamoxifen-mediated suppression of Rb phosphorylation, recruitment in G1, and inhibition of cell proliferation were identical in the presence and absence of tetracycline. TGF-beta1 treatment up-regulated the Cdk inhibitor p21 and induced its association with Cdk2 in MCF-7 cells; these responses were blocked by the DeltaRII transgene product. In MCF-7 cells with a functional TGF-beta signaling pathway, tamoxifen did not up-regulate p21 nor did it induce association of p21 with Cdk2, suggesting alternative mechanisms for antiestrogen-mediated cytostasis. Finally, transfection of late-passage, TGF-beta1 unresponsive MCF-7 cells with high levels of TGF-betaRII restored TGF-beta1-induced growth inhibition but did not enhance tamoxifen response in culture. Taken together these data strongly argue against any role for TGF-beta signaling on tamoxifen-mediated growth inhibition of hormone-dependent breast cancer cells.
The origin and neoplastic potential of gastric epithelial polyps remains an area of great interest, and treatment choices are a topic of controversy. This report describes a patient diagnosed with three concurrent hyperplastic gastric polyps that were studied for genetic alterations. The polyps were investigated for alterations in the K-ras oncogene and the p53 tumor suppressor gene and for p21WAF1/Cip1 and MDM2 protein overexpression. In addition, loss of heterozygosity at several loci that are frequently involved in human cancer was analyzed, microsatellite instability, a hallmark of the "mutator" phenotype, was determined, and Epstein-Barr virus infection was investigated. All separate areas from the three independent polyps harbored the same activating point mutation in codon 12 of the K-ras oncogene, indicating a clonal origin. DNA sequence alterations in p53 were not found, although high p53 protein levels could be shown by immunohistochemistry in areas of carcinoma within the largest polyp. No alterations in any of the other molecular markers were observed. The results strongly favor a clonal origin of the three independent gastric polyps and support the notion that these hyperplastic polyps may carry a risk for malignancy.
In response to DNA damage, cells transduce a signal that leads to accumulation and activation of p53 protein, transcriptional induction of several genes, including p21, gadd45, and gadd153, and cell cycle arrest. One hypothesis is that the signal is mediated by DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), which consists of a catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and a regulatory subunit (Ku). DNA-PK has several characteristics that support this hypothesis: Ku binds to DNA damaged by nicks or double-strand breaks, DNA-PKcs is activated when Ku binds to DNA, DNA-PK will phosphorylate p53 and other cell cycle regulatory proteins in vitro, and DNA-PKcs shares homology with ATM, which is mutated in ataxia telangiectasia and involved in signaling the p53 response to ionizing radiation. The hypothesis was tested by analyzing early passage fibroblasts from severe combined immunodeficient mice, which are deficient in DNA-PK. After exposure to ionizing radiation, UV radiation, or methyl methane-sulfonate, severe combined immunodeficient and wild-type cells were indistinguishable in their response. The accumulation of p53, induction of p21, gadd45, and gadd153, and arrest of the cell cycle in G1 and G2 occurred normally. Therefore, DNA-PK is not required for the p53 response or cell cycle arrest after DNA damage.
Inactivation of the p53 tumour-suppressor gene is common in a wide variety of human neoplasms. In the majority of cases, single point mutations in the protein-encoding sequence of p53 lead to positive immunohistochemistry (IHC) for the p53 protein, and are accompanied by loss of the wild-type allele. Recently, the WAF1/Cip1 gene was identified as one of the genes induced by wild-type p53, and increased expression of p21WAF1/Cip1 has been found to reflect the status of the p53 tumour-suppressor pathway. We investigated the inactivation of p53 in a relatively small, but well-characterised, group of 46 colorectal carcinomas that were previously studied for allelic alterations, ras oncogene mutations and DNA aneuploidy. Alterations in p53 were identified by IHC, loss of 17p and DNA sequence analysis of exons 5-8, whereas p21WAF1/Cip1 protein expression was determined by IHC. p53 mutations were identified in 19 of the 46 tumours (41%), whereas positive IHC for p53 was found in 21 of the 46 tumours (46%). Positive IHC for p21WAF1/Cip1 was detected in 16 of 42 cases (38%). We found no relationship between p21WAF1/Cip1 staining and p53 protein expression or p53 mutational status. Inactivating mutations in the p53 gene correlated with LOH at 17p but not with LOH at 5q or 18q, Dukes' stage, tumour grade or DNA ploidy. There was a higher survival rate independent of Dukes' stage in the group with no alterations in p53 compared with those with evidence of dysfunction of p53, but the difference was not statistically significant. We conclude that inactivation of p53 and altered expression of p21WAF1/Cip1 are common in colorectal carcinoma but do not correlate with each other or with the clinical or pathological parameters investigated.
OBJECTIVE - The p21Cip1 protein is a potent stoichiometric inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase activity, and p21Cip1 mRNA expression is localized to the nonproliferative compartment of the intestinal villus, suggesting an in vivo growth-inhibitory role in the gut. The authors determined whether nontransformed rat intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) underwent reversible cell cycle arrest by contact inhibition, and determined whether increases in the relative amount of p21 associated with cyclin D/Cdk4 protein complexes were associated with cell growth arrest.
METHODS - Density arrest was achieved by prolonged culture IEC-6 in confluent conditions (5 or more days). Release from density arrest was achieved by detaching the cells from the culture plate and reseeding them at a 1:4 ratio. The DNA synthesis was estimated by [3H]-thymidine incorporation and expressed as mean plus or minus standard error of the mean (n = 4). Cyclin D1, Cdk4, and p21 mRNA and protein levels were determined by standard Northern and Western blot analyses, respectively. Cyclin D1, Cdk4, and p21 protein complex formation was analyzed by immunoprecipitating the complexes from cell lysates with an antibody to one of the constituents, followed by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Western blot analysis of the precipitated complexes using antibodies to the other proteins. The kinase activity of the immunoprecipitated Cdk4 was determined using recombinant Rb as substrate.
RESULTS - The IEC-6[3H]-thymidine incorporation was decreased 7.5-fold from day 1 confluence to day 7 of confluence. Twenty-four hours after release from density arrest, there was a 43-fold increase in [3H]-thymidine incorporation. Cyclin D1 and Cdk4 mRNA levels remained relatively constant during contact inhibition, whereas immunoblotting showed that the levels of cyclin D1 and Cdk4 proteins decreased by 70.9% and 68.7%, respectively, comparing day 3 with day 9 during density arrest. The levels of cyclin D1 increased 5.8-fold and Cdk4 increased by 4.4-fold by 24 hours after reseeding the day 9 density-arrested cultures, coincident with the increase in DNA synthesis. The amount of p21 associated with the cyclin D1 and Cdk4 complex in the density-arrested cells was 170% of that observed in the reseeded, proliferating cells. More important, the p21::Cdk4 ratio was 6.4-fold higher in the density-arrested (quiescent) cells as compared with rapidly proliferating cells by 24 hours after release from growth arrest. Recovery of Cdk4-dependent kinase activity occurred by 4 hours after release from growth arrest, coincident with decreased binding of p21 to the complex.
CONCLUSIONS - Intestinal epithelial cells in culture can undergo density-dependent growth arrest. This process involves downregulation of cyclin D1 and Cdk4 at the level of protein expression, whereas the mRNA levels remain relatively unchanged. Further, during contact inhibition, there is more p21 associated with cyclin D1/Cdk4, which further contributes to the inhibition of the kinase complex. The authors also have shown that the process of contact inhibition is reversible, which may explain partly the ability of the intestinal epithelium to increase proliferative activity in response to injury.
The cell cycle regulatory tumor suppressor proteins p53 and pRB are targeted for inactivation by several tumor viruses, including the high-risk types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) via interactions of the HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins with p53 and pRB, respectively. p53 plays a central role in a signal transduction pathway that mediates G1 arrest after DNA damage, though the mechanism by which G1 arrest occurs has not been elucidated. The cyclin-associated protein p21waf1/cip1 has recently been shown to be induced by p53 and to inhibit cyclin complex-mediated phosphorylation of pRB in vitro. Thus, we investigated a possible role for pRB in the p53-mediated DNA damage response. After gamma-irradiation, cells expressing wild-type p53 arrested in G1, contained increased levels of WAF1/CIP1 mRNA, and demonstrated accumulation of hypophosphorylated pRB. In contrast, cell lines with abnormal p53 genes or with p53 functionally inactivated by the E6 oncoprotein of HPV16 (a high-risk HPV) failed to arrest in G1, did not elevate WAF1/CIP1 mRNA, and did not accumulate hypophosphorylated pRB. Despite apparently normal elevation of p53 protein and WAF1/CIP1 mRNA after irradiation, cells expressing HPV16 E7 also failed to arrest in G1 and did not accumulate hypophosphorylated pRB. Disruption of RB genes alone did not totally abrogate this G1 arrest. Our results suggest that p53 indirectly regulates phosphorylation of pRB and that pRB and/or other pRB-like molecules that bind to HPV16 E7 participate in the DNA damage-mediated G1 arrest signal. In the process of HPV infection, the HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins may undermine this cell cycle checkpoint, contributing to the accumulation of genetic alterations during tumorigenesis.