p53 mutant human glioma cells are sensitive to UV-C-induced apoptosis due to impaired cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer removal

Mol Cancer Res. 2009 Feb;7(2):237-46. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-08-0428. Epub 2009 Feb 10.


The p53 protein is a key regulator of cell responses to DNA damage, and it has been shown that it sensitizes glioma cells to the alkylating agent temozolomide by up-regulating the extrinsic apoptotic pathway, whereas it increases the resistance to chloroethylating agents, such as ACNU and BCNU, probably by enhancing the efficiency of DNA repair. However, because these agents induce a wide variety of distinct DNA lesions, the direct importance of DNA repair is hard to access. Here, it is shown that the induction of photoproducts by UV light (UV-C) significantly induces apoptosis in a p53-mutated glioma background. This is caused by a reduced level of photoproduct repair, resulting in the persistence of DNA lesions in p53-mutated glioma cells. UV-C-induced apoptosis in p53 mutant glioma cells is preceded by strong transcription and replication inhibition due to blockage by unrepaired photolesions. Moreover, the results indicate that UV-C-induced apoptosis of p53 mutant glioma cells is executed through the intrinsic apoptotic pathway, with Bcl-2 degradation and sustained Bax and Bak up-regulation. Collectively, the data indicate that unrepaired DNA lesions induce apoptosis in p53 mutant gliomas despite the resistance of these gliomas to temozolomide, suggesting that efficiency of treatment of p53 mutant gliomas might be higher with agents that induce the formation of DNA lesions whose global genomic repair is dependent on p53.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • DNA Replication / radiation effects
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Pyrimidine Dimers*
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / radiation effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • BAK1 protein, human
  • BAX protein, human
  • FADD protein, human
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Caspases