Background & Aims: Although the p53 tumor suppressor has been extensively studied, many critical questions remain unanswered about the biological functions of p53 homologs, p73 and p63. Accumulating evidence suggests that both p73 and p63 play important roles in regulation of apoptosis, cell differentiation, and therapeutic drug sensitivity. Methods: Gastric epithelial cells were cocultured with Helicobacter pylori, and the roles of p63 and p73 proteins were assessed by luciferase reporter, real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting, and cell survival assays. Short hairpin RNA and dominant-negative mutants were used to inhibit activity of p73 and p63 isoforms. Human and murine gastric tissues were analyzed by immunohistochemistry with p73 and p63 antibodies and modified Steiner's silver method. Results: Interaction of H pylori with gastric epithelial cells leads to robust up-regulation of p73 protein in vitro and in vivo in human gastritis specimens and H pylori-infected mice. The p73 increase resulted in up-regulation of pro-apoptotic genes, NOXA, PUMA, and FAS receptor in gastric epithelial cells. Down-regulation of p73 activity suppressed cell death and Fas receptor induced by H pylori. Bacterial virulence factors within the cag pathogenicity island, c-Abl tyrosine kinase, and interaction with p63 isoforms control the activity of p73. Conclusion: Our findings implicate p73 in H pylori-induced apoptosis and more generally suggest that the p53 family may play a role in the epithelial cell response to H pylori infection.
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