Overexpression of p21WAF1/CIP1 induces growth arrest, giant cell formation and apoptosis in human breast carcinoma cell lines

Oncogene. 1995 Nov 2;11(9):1899-905.


The p21WAF1/CIP1 protein was shown to be a critical downstream effector of p53 and a potent inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases. We investigated the effects of exogenous p21WAF1/CIP1 in two different human breast carcinoma (HBC) cell lines MCF-7 and T47D. p21WAF1/CIP1 transfected cells formed significantly reduced number of drug-resistant colonies than their mock-transfected counterparts. The majority of the p21WAF1/CIP1 transfected MCF-7 cells acquired 50-100-fold increase in their sizes and persisted as single giant cells for several days without cell division, while the remainder underwent nuclear division (multiple nuclei) but were unable to complete cytokinesis, and finally all succumbed to apoptosis. Only few p21WAF1/CIP1 transfected T47D cells displayed increase in their sizes while a number of them formed small sized drug-resistant colonies which diminished in size due to cell death. The cells in these shrinking colonies exhibited characteristic signs of apoptosis such as chromatin condensation and fragmented nuclei while their membrane integrity was preserved. Thus in HBC cell lines the growth suppression due to enforced overexpression of p21WAF1/CIP1 is associated with giant cell formation and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins / biosynthesis*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Giant Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Recombinant Proteins