Loss of normal p53 function confers sensitization to Taxol by increasing G2/M arrest and apoptosis

Nat Med. 1996 Jan;2(1):72-9. doi: 10.1038/nm0196-72.


The anticancer agent paclitaxel (Taxol) stabilizes tubulin polymerization resulting in arrest in mitosis and apoptotic cell death. Normal human fibroblasts depleted of functional p53 by SV40 T antigen or HPV-16 E6, and primary embryo fibroblasts from p53 null mice showed seven- to ninefold increased cytotoxicity by paclitaxel. Reduced levels of p53 correlated with increased G2/M phase arrest, micronucleation, and p53-independent paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. Surviving cells with intact p53 progressed through mitosis and transiently accumulated in the subsequent G1 phase, coincident with increased p53 and p21cip1,waf1 protein levels. These results are in contrast to studies linking p53 loss with resistance to DNA damaging anticancer agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming / biosynthesis
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / toxicity*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • G2 Phase / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Paclitaxel / toxicity*
  • Repressor Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / deficiency
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • E6 protein, Human papillomavirus type 16
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Paclitaxel