Wild-type tumor repressor protein 53 (Trp53) promotes ovarian cancer cell survival

Endocrinology. 2012 Apr;153(4):1638-48. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-2131. Epub 2012 Mar 6.


Loss of Pten in the Kras(G12D);Amhr2-Cre mutant mice leads to the transformation of ovarian surface epithelial (OSE) cells and rapid development of low-grade, invasive serous adenocarcinomas. Tumors occur with 100% penetrance and express elevated levels of wild-type tumor repressor protein 53 (TRP53). To test the functions of TRP53 in the Pten;Kras (Trp53+) mice, we disrupted the Trp53 gene yielding Pten;Kras(Trp53-) mice. By comparing morphology and gene expression profiles in the Trp53+ and Trp53- OSE cells from these mice, we document that wild-type TRP53 acts as a major promoter of OSE cell survival and differentiation: cells lacking Trp53 are transformed yet are less adherent, migratory, and invasive and exhibit a gene expression profile more like normal OSE cells. These results provide a new paradigm: wild-type TRP53 does not preferentially induce apoptotic or senescent related genes in the Pten;Kras(Trp53+) cancer cells but rather increases genes regulating DNA repair, cell cycle progression, and proliferation and decreases putative tumor suppressor genes. However, if TRP53 activity is forced higher by exposure to nutlin-3a (a mouse double minute-2 antagonist), TRP53 suppresses DNA repair genes and induces the expression of genes that control cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Thus, in the Pten;Kras(Trp53+) mutant mouse OSE cells and likely in human TP53+ low-grade ovarian cancer cells, wild-type TRP53 controls global molecular changes that are dependent on its activation status. These results suggest that activation of TP53 may provide a promising new therapy for managing low-grade ovarian cancer and other cancers in humans in which wild-type TP53 is expressed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Imidazoles
  • Piperazines
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • nutlin 3