As humans age, normal tissues, such as the esophageal epithelium, become a patchwork of mutant clones. Some mutations are under positive selection, conferring a competitive advantage over wild-type cells. We speculated that altering the selective pressure on mutant cell populations may cause them to expand or contract. We tested this hypothesis by examining the effect of oxidative stress from low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) on wild-type and p53 mutant cells in the transgenic mouse esophagus. We found that LDIR drives wild-type cells to stop proliferating and differentiate. p53 mutant cells are insensitive to LDIR and outcompete wild-type cells following exposure. Remarkably, combining antioxidant treatment and LDIR reverses this effect, promoting wild-type cell proliferation and p53 mutant differentiation, reducing the p53 mutant population. Thus, p53-mutant cells can be depleted from the normal esophagus by redox manipulation, showing that external interventions may be used to alter the mutational landscape of an aging tissue.
Keywords: NFE2L2; TP53; cell competition; cell tracing; differentiation; ionizing radiation; mitochondria; oxidative stress; somatic mutation; stem cell.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.