Background: A major factor that impedes the clinical success of cisplatin-based chemotherapy for cancer is cisplatin resistance by cancer cells.
Materials and methods: The sensitivity of parental HCT116 human colon cancer cell line and its isogenic gene-knockout sub-lines to cisplatin was determined by clonogenicity assay; furthermore, p53 activation, p21 expression, cell cycle arrest and senescence in these cells after cisplatin treatment were investigated.
Results: Parental cells were six times more resistant than 14-3-3sigma-knockout (sigma-KO) cells to cisplatin. Moreover, activation of p53, p53-dependent expression of p21 and p21-dependent senescence were observed in sigma-KO, but not parental cells after a treatment with a low cisplatin dose.
Conclusion: A 14-3-3sigma-dependent mechanism inhibits p53 activation in parental cells treated with a low cisplatin dose, thereby blocking p21 expression that is essential for senescence and consequently conferring to the parental cells a significant degree of resistance to cisplatin.