Deregulated manganese superoxide dismutase expression and resistance to oxidative injury in p53-deficient cells

Giovanni Pani, Barbara Bedogni, Rosanna Anzevino, Renata Colavitti, Bernardetta Palazzotti, Silvia Borrello, Tommaso Galeotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Loss of function of the tumor suppressor protein p53 represents a very frequent event in human carcinogenesis, but the molecular mechanisms linking impaired p53 activity to increased cell malignancy are still incompletely understood. p53 is normally involved in both cell cycle control and the induction of cell death and is involved in the latter mainly through the transcriptional regulation of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins. Reactive oxygen species are known to be powerful inducers of p53 activity; moreover, they play a role in the execution of p53-dependent apoptosis. Here we show that transformed mouse fibroblasts lacking p53 are significantly more resistant than wild-type (wt) controls to the cytotoxic effect of a number of pro-oxidant treatments. Interestingly, these cells also exhibit deregulated expression of the antioxidant enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), a protein known to protect cancer cells from the oxidative injury inflicted by antitumoral cytokines and anticancer drugs. MnSOD activity was also increased in liver tissue from p53-deficient mice in comparison with wt tissue. Transient transfection of wt p53 in HeLa cells led to a significant reduction in steady-state MnSOD mRNA levels and enzymatic activity, confirming that the expression of this antioxidant enzyme is negatively regulated by p53. Forced expression of MnSOD rendered HeLa cells resistant to p53-dependent cytotoxic treatments and, in cotransfection experiments, counteracted the growth-inhibitory effect of p53. Taken together, these data identify MnSOD as a potential target for tumor suppressor protein p53 and underscore the relevance of MnSOD modulation in the context of normal p53 functions because it is consistent with many reports of abnormally increased MnSOD expression in human cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4654-4660
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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