Senescence and tumour clearance is triggered by p53 restoration in murine liver carcinomas.
ABSTRACT: Although cancer arises from a combination of mutations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes, the extent to which tumour suppressor gene loss is required for maintaining established tumours is poorly understood. p53 is an important tumour suppressor that acts to restrict proliferation in response to DNA damage or deregulation of mitogenic oncogenes, by leading to the induction of various cell cycle checkpoints, apoptosis or cellular senescence. Consequently, p53 mutations increase cell proliferation and survival, and in some settings promote genomic instability and resistance to certain chemotherapies. To determine the consequences of reactivating the p53 pathway in tumours, we used RNA interference (RNAi) to conditionally regulate endogenous p53 expression in a mosaic mouse model of liver carcinoma. We show that even brief reactivation of endogenous p53 in p53-deficient tumours can produce complete tumour regressions. The primary response to p53 was not apoptosis, but instead involved the induction of a cellular senescence program that was associated with differentiation and the upregulation of inflammatory cytokines. This program, although producing only cell cycle arrest in vitro, also triggered an innate immune response that targeted the tumour cells in vivo, thereby contributing to tumour clearance. Our study indicates that p53 loss can be required for the maintenance of aggressive carcinomas, and illustrates how the cellular senescence program can act together with the innate immune system to potently limit tumour growth.
Project description:Cellular senescence has been recently shown to have an important role in opposing tumour initiation and promotion. Senescence induced by oncogenes or by loss of tumour suppressor genes is thought to critically depend on induction of the p19(Arf)-p53 pathway. The Skp2 E3-ubiquitin ligase can act as a proto-oncogene and its aberrant overexpression is frequently observed in human cancers. Here we show that although Skp2 inactivation on its own does not induce cellular senescence, aberrant proto-oncogenic signals as well as inactivation of tumour suppressor genes do trigger a potent, tumour-suppressive senescence response in mice and cells devoid of Skp2. Notably, Skp2 inactivation and oncogenic-stress-driven senescence neither elicit activation of the p19(Arf)-p53 pathway nor DNA damage, but instead depend on Atf4, p27 and p21. We further demonstrate that genetic Skp2 inactivation evokes cellular senescence even in oncogenic conditions in which the p19(Arf)-p53 response is impaired, whereas a Skp2-SCF complex inhibitor can trigger cellular senescence in p53/Pten-deficient cells and tumour regression in preclinical studies. Our findings therefore provide proof-of-principle evidence that pharmacological inhibition of Skp2 may represent a general approach for cancer prevention and therapy.
Project description:Cellular senescence is a program of irreversible cell cycle arrest that normal cells undergo in response to progressive shortening of telomeres, changes in telomeric structure, oncogene activation or oxidative stress. The underlying signalling pathways, potentially of major clinicopathological relevance, are unknown. A major stumbling block to studying senescence has been the absence of suitable model systems because of the asynchrony of this process in heterogeneous cell populations. To simplify this process many investigators study oncogene-induced senescence due to expression of activated oncogenes where senescence occurs prematurely without telomere attrition and can be induced acutely in a variety of cell types. We have taken a different approach by making use of the finding that reconstitution of telomerase activity by introduction of the catalytic subunit of human telomerase alone is incapable of immortalising all human somatic cells, but inactivation of the p16-pRB and p53-p21 pathways are required in addition. The ability of SV40 large T antigen to inactivate the p16-pRB and p53-p21 pathways has enabled us to use a thermolabile mutant of LT antigen, in conjunction with hTERT, to develop conditionally immortalised human (HMF3A) fibroblasts that are immortal but undergo an irreversible growth arrest when the thermolabile LT antigen is inactivated leading to activation of pRB and p53. When these cells cease dividing, senescence-associated- b-galactosidase activity is induced and the growth-arrested cells have morphological features and express genes in common with senescent cells. Since these cells growth arrest in a synchronous manner they are an excellent starting point for dissecting the pathways that underlie cellular senescence and act downstream of p16-pRB and p53-p21 pathways. We have combined genome-wide expression profiling with genetic complementation to undertake identification of genes that are differentially expressed when these conditionally immortalised human fibroblasts undergo senescence upon activation of the p16-pRB and p53-p21 tumour suppressor pathways. Genes differentially expressed upon senescence will be identified by comparing arrays from growing versus senescent cells. Changes in gene expression due to the temperature shift will be eliminated by comparing with array data from the non-conditional HMF3S cells grown at 34°C ±0.5°C and 38°C ±0.5°C. To determine if the changes in gene expression upon senescence are specific and reversible, the set of differential genes will then be overlaid with array data from cells in which senescence has been bypassed by inactivation of the p16-pRB and p53-p21 tumour suppressor pathways
Project description:p63 is distinct from its homologue p53 in that its role as a tumour suppressor is controversial, an issue complicated by the existence of two classes of p63 isoforms. Here we show that TAp63 isoforms are robust mediators of senescence that inhibit tumorigenesis in vivo. Whereas gain of TAp63 induces senescence, loss of p63 enhances sarcoma development in mice lacking p53. Using a new TAp63-specific conditional mouse model, we demonstrate that TAp63 isoforms are essential for Ras-induced senescence, and that TAp63 deficiency increases proliferation and enhances Ras-mediated oncogenesis in the context of p53 deficiency in vivo. TAp63 induces senescence independently of p53, p19(Arf) and p16(Ink4a), but requires p21(Waf/Cip1) and Rb. TAp63-mediated senescence overrides Ras-driven transformation of p53-deficient cells, preventing tumour initiation, and doxycycline-regulated expression of TAp63 activates p21(Waf/Cip1), induces senescence and inhibits progression of established tumours in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that TAp63 isoforms function as tumour suppressors by regulating senescence through p53-independent pathways. The ability of TAp63 to trigger senescence and halt tumorigenesis irrespective of p53 status identifies TAp63 as a potential target of anti-cancer therapy for human malignancies with compromised p53.
Project description:There is growing evidence that many host proteins involved in innate and intrinsic immunity are regulated by SUMOylation, and that SUMO contributes to the regulatory process that governs the initiation of the type I interferon (IFN) response. The tumor suppressor p53 is a modulator of the IFN response that plays a role in virus-induced apoptosis and in IFN-induced senescence. Here we demonstrate that IFN treatment increases the levels of SUMOylated p53 and induces cellular senescence through a process that is partially dependent upon SUMOylation of p53. Similarly, we show that vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection induces p53 SUMOylation, and that this modification favors the control of VSV replication. Thus, our study provides evidence that IFN signaling induces p53 SUMOylation, which results in the activation of a cellular senescence program and contributes to the antiviral functions of interferon.
Project description:p21 is a potent cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor that plays a role in promoting G1 cell cycle arrest and cellular senescence. Consistent with this role, p21 is a downstream target of several tumour suppressors and oncogenes, and it is downregulated in the majority of tumours, including breast cancer. Here, we report that protein arginine methyltransferase 6 (PRMT6), a type I PRMT known to act as a transcriptional cofactor, directly represses the p21 promoter. PRMT6 knock-down (KD) results in a p21 derepression in breast cancer cells, which is p53-independent, and leads to cell cycle arrest, cellular senescence and reduced growth in soft agar assays and in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice for all the cancer lines examined. We finally show that bypassing the p21-mediated arrest rescues PRMT6 KD cells from senescence, and it restores their ability to grow on soft agar. We conclude that PRMT6 acts as an oncogene in breast cancer cells, promoting growth and preventing senescence, making it an attractive target for cancer therapy.
Project description:Tumorigenesis is a multistep process that results from the sequential accumulation of mutations in key oncogene and tumour suppressor pathways. Personalized cancer therapy that is based on targeting these underlying genetic abnormalities presupposes that sustained inactivation of tumour suppressors and activation of oncogenes is essential in advanced cancers. Mutations in the p53 tumour-suppressor pathway are common in human cancer and significant efforts towards pharmaceutical reactivation of defective p53 pathways are underway. Here we show that restoration of p53 in established murine lung tumours leads to significant but incomplete tumour cell loss specifically in malignant adenocarcinomas, but not in adenomas. We define amplification of MAPK signalling as a critical determinant of malignant progression and also a stimulator of Arf tumour-suppressor expression. The response to p53 restoration in this context is critically dependent on the expression of Arf. We propose that p53 not only limits malignant progression by suppressing the acquisition of alterations that lead to tumour progression, but also, in the context of p53 restoration, responds to increased oncogenic signalling to mediate tumour regression. Our observations also underscore that the p53 pathway is not engaged by low levels of oncogene activity that are sufficient for early stages of lung tumour development. These data suggest that restoration of pathways important in tumour progression, as opposed to initiation, may lead to incomplete tumour regression due to the stage-heterogeneity of tumour cell populations.
Project description:Expression of oncogenic K-RAS in primary cells elicits oncogene-induced cellular senescence (OIS), a form of growth arrest that potently opposes tumourigenesis. This effect has been largely attributed to transcriptional mechanisms that depend on the p53 tumour suppressor protein. The PML tumour suppressor was initially identified as a component of the PML-RARα oncoprotein of acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL). PML, a critical OIS mediator, is upregulated by oncogenic K-RAS in vivo and in vitro. We demonstrate here that oncogenic K-RAS induces PML protein upregulation by activating the RAS/MEK1/mTOR/eIF4E pathway even in the absence of p53. Under these circumstances, PML mRNA is selectively associated to polysomes. Importantly, we find that the PML 5' untranslated mRNA region plays a key role in mediating PML protein upregulation and that its presence is essential for an efficient OIS response. These findings demonstrate that upregulation of PML translation plays a central role in oncogenic K-RAS-induced OIS. Thus, selective translation initiation plays a critical role in tumour suppression with important therapeutic implications for the treatment of solid tumours and APL.
Project description:The study of cancer genes in mouse models has traditionally relied on genetically-engineered strains made via transgenesis or gene targeting in embryonic stem cells. Here we describe a new method of cancer model generation using the CRISPR/Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated proteins) system in vivo in wild-type mice. We used hydrodynamic injection to deliver a CRISPR plasmid DNA expressing Cas9 and single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) to the liver that directly target the tumour suppressor genes Pten (ref. 5) and p53 (also known as TP53 and Trp53) (ref. 6), alone and in combination. CRISPR-mediated Pten mutation led to elevated Akt phosphorylation and lipid accumulation in hepatocytes, phenocopying the effects of deletion of the gene using Cre-LoxP technology. Simultaneous targeting of Pten and p53 induced liver tumours that mimicked those caused by Cre-loxP-mediated deletion of Pten and p53. DNA sequencing of liver and tumour tissue revealed insertion or deletion mutations of the tumour suppressor genes, including bi-allelic mutations of both Pten and p53 in tumours. Furthermore, co-injection of Cas9 plasmids harbouring sgRNAs targeting the ?-catenin gene and a single-stranded DNA oligonucleotide donor carrying activating point mutations led to the generation of hepatocytes with nuclear localization of ?-catenin. This study demonstrates the feasibility of direct mutation of tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes in the liver using the CRISPR/Cas system, which presents a new avenue for rapid development of liver cancer models and functional genomics.
Project description:Cellular senescence has been theorized to oppose neoplastic transformation triggered by activation of oncogenic pathways in vitro, but the relevance of senescence in vivo has not been established. The PTEN and p53 tumour suppressors are among the most commonly inactivated or mutated genes in human cancer including prostate cancer. Although they are functionally distinct, reciprocal cooperation has been proposed, as PTEN is thought to regulate p53 stability, and p53 to enhance PTEN transcription. Here we show that conditional inactivation of Trp53 in the mouse prostate fails to produce a tumour phenotype, whereas complete Pten inactivation in the prostate triggers non-lethal invasive prostate cancer after long latency. Strikingly, combined inactivation of Pten and Trp53 elicits invasive prostate cancer as early as 2 weeks after puberty and is invariably lethal by 7 months of age. Importantly, acute Pten inactivation induces growth arrest through the p53-dependent cellular senescence pathway both in vitro and in vivo, which can be fully rescued by combined loss of Trp53. Furthermore, we detected evidence of cellular senescence in specimens from early-stage human prostate cancer. Our results demonstrate the relevance of cellular senescence in restricting tumorigenesis in vivo and support a model for cooperative tumour suppression in which p53 is an essential failsafe protein of Pten-deficient tumours.
Project description:The tumor suppressor p53 is a canonical inducer of cellular senescence (irreversible loss of proliferative potential and senescent morphology). p53 can also cause reversible arrest without senescent morphology, which has usually been interpreted as failure of p53 to induce senescence. Here we demonstrate that p53-induced quiescence actually results from suppression of senescence by p53. In previous studies, suppression of senescence by p53 was masked by p53-induced cell cycle arrest. Here, we separated these two activities by inducing senescence through overexpression of p21 and then testing the effect of p53 on senescence. We found that in p21-arrested cells, p53 converted senescence into quiescence. Suppression of senescence by p53 required its transactivation function. Like rapamycin, which is known to suppress senescence, p53 inhibited the mTOR pathway. We suggest that, while inducing cell cycle arrest, p53 may simultaneously suppress the senescence program, thus causing quiescence and that suppression of senescence and induction of cell cycle arrest are distinct functions of p53. Thus, in spite of its ability to induce cell cycle arrest, p53 can act as a suppressor of cellular senescence.