Purpose: In search for more effective clinical protocols, the antimetabolite drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) has been successfully included in new regimens of bladder cancer combination chemotherapy. In the present study, we have investigated the effects of 5-FU treatment on apoptosis induction in wild-type and mutant p53 urinary bladder cancer cells.
Methods: We have used MTT-based assays, FACS analysis, Western blotting and semi-quantitative RT-PCR in RT4 and RT112 (grade I, wild-type p53), as well as in T24 (grade III, mutant p53) and TCCSUP (grade IV, mutant p53) human urinary bladder cancer cell lines.
Results: In the urothelial bladder cancer cell lines RT4 and T24, 5-FU-induced TS inhibition proved to be associated with cell type-dependent (a) sensitivity to the drug, (b) Caspase-mediated apoptosis, (c) p53 stabilization and activation, as well as Rb phosphorylation and E2F1 expression and (d) transcriptional regulation of p53 target genes and their cognate proteins, while an E2F-dependent transcriptional network did not seem to be critically engaged in such type of responses.
Conclusions: We have shown that in the wild-type p53 context of RT4 cells, 5-FU-triggered apoptosis was prominently efficient and mainly regulated by p53-dependent mechanisms, whereas the mutant p53 environment of T24 cells was able to provide notable levels of resistance to apoptosis, basically ascribed to E2F-independent, and still unidentified, pathways. Nevertheless, the differential vulnerability of RT4 and T24 cells to 5-FU administration could also be associated with cell-type-specific transcriptional expression patterns of certain genes critically involved in 5-FU metabolism.