Mechanisms of Ad-p53 induced apoptosis in human malignant glioma

Julie Ann Marie Cerrato, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Malignant brain tumors are one of the most challenging cancers affecting society today. In a recent survey, an estimated 17,000 annual cases were recorded with a staggering total of 13,300 deaths. A unique degree of heterogeneity typifies glial tumors and presents a challenge for solitary anti-neoplastic treatments. Tumors subsist as heterogeneous masses that progress through dysplasia to astrocytomas, mixed glioma and glioblastoma multiforme. Although traditional therapeutic approaches have provided increments of success, the median survival time remains 12 months. The urgency to improve upon current clinical protocols has encouraged alternative experimental strategies such as p53 adenoviral gene therapy (Ad-p53). This study addresses the efficacy of Ad-p53 for the treatment of glioma. Our model presents a tumor response that is unique among human cancers. Ad-p53 effectively induces apoptosis in mutant p53 expressing cells yet fails to do so in those with wildtype p53. In order to adopt Adp53 as a standard anti-cancer modality, we characterized the role of the tumor suppressor gene p53 in mediating apoptosis. We demonstrate that altering cellular p53 status through the introduction of a dominant negative mutant p53 (175H, 248W, 273H) sensitized cells to Ad-p53. We discovered that wild-type p53 expressing glioma cells retain the apoptotic machinery necessary to accomplish cell death, but have developed mechanisms that interfere with p53 signaling. Earlier studies have not addressed the mechanisms of Ad-p53 apoptosis nor the resistance exhibited by wild-type p53 glioma. To explain the divergent phenotypes, we identified apoptotic pathways activated and effectors of the response. We illustrated that modulation of the death receptor Fas/APO-1 is a principal means of Ad-p53 signaling that is impaired in wild-type p53 glioma. Moreover, the apoptotic response was found to be a multi-faceted process that engaged several caspases, most notably caspases -1, -3 and -8. Lastly, we assessed the ability of anti-apoptotic molecules Bcl-2 and CrmA to inhibit Ad-p53 apoptosis. These studies revealed that Ad-p53 is a powerful tool for inducing apoptosis that can be delayed but not inhibited by anti-apoptotic means. This work is critical for understanding the development of glioma and the phenotypic and genotypic alterations that account for tumor resistance.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Oncology|Surgery

Recommended Citation

Cerrato, Julie Ann Marie, "Mechanisms of Ad-p53 induced apoptosis in human malignant glioma" (2001). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3004449.