Relaxed cell-cycle arrests and propagation of unrepaired chromosomal damage in cancer cell lines with wild-type p53

Olivier, M.; Bautista, S.; Valles, H.; Theillet, C.

Mol Carcinog

1998-09 / vol 23 / pages 1-12


The role of the p53 protein in mediating G1 and G2 cell-cycle arrests after genotoxic insult has been clearly and reproducibly established in primary diploid fibroblasts, but data obtained from p53 wild-type (wt) cancer cell lines are inconsistent. Furthermore, a large proportion of human tumors have p53 wt genotypes but present genetic aberrations that may result from defective cell-cycle checkpoints. We therefore investigated the integrity of G1/S and G2/M cell-cycle arrests in p53 wt cancer cell lines. In the study presented here, we showed that in most cancer cells tested, G1 arrest was relaxed or absent in comparison with arrest in normal diploid fibroblasts, despite seemingly normal p53 and p21 responses. Two cell lines (MCF7 and HCT116) were synchronized in G0/G1 by leucine starvation and subjected to genotoxic stress to determine more precisely the relative proportion of cells arresting in G1 and G2. Whereas the MCF7 cells showed consistent G1 arrest, the HCT116 cells showed none at all. Furthermore, cell-cycle arrests in G1 and G2 in response to gamma irradiation and bleomycin treatment were transient, as the cells resumed cycling after 48-72 h. The cells resuming proliferation suffered massive apoptosis, but a proportion of the cells were rescued and showed normal doubling times. These cells retained a p53 wt genotype but presented gross chromosomal aberrations in 15-20% of the analyzed metaphases. The aberrations were not clonal. These data show that p53 wt cancer cells have relaxed cell-cycle controls after genotoxic insult and tolerate unrepaired chromosomal damage, despite normal p53 function.

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Humans; DNA Damage; Mutation; Mutagens/pharmacology; Tumor Cells, Cultured; Breast Neoplasms/genetics/metabolism/*pathology; *Chromosome Aberrations; Cell Cycle/*genetics; *Genes, p53; Gamma Rays; Oncogene Protein p21(ras)/biosynthesis/metabolism; Oxidative Stress; Tumor Suppressor Protein p53/biosynthesis/metabolism

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