Aberrant Notch signaling contributes to more than half of all human T-cell leukemias, and accumulating evidence indicates Notch involvement in other human neoplasms. We developed a tetracycline-inducible mouse model (Top-Notch ic) to examine the genetic interactions underlying the development of Notch-induced neoplastic disease. Using this model, we show that Notch suppresses p53 in lymphomagenesis through repression of the ARF-mdm2-p53 tumor surveillance network. Attenuation of Notch expression resulted in a dramatic increase in p53 levels that led to tumor regression by an apoptotic program. This shows that continued Notch activity is required to maintain the disease state. However, all tumors relapsed with rapid kinetics, most of which, by reactivation of Notch expression. Furthermore, by directly inhibiting the mdm2-p53 interaction by using either ionizing radiation or the novel small molecule therapeutic Nutlin, p53 can be activated and cause tumor cell death, even in the presence of sustained Notch activity. Therefore, it is the suppression of p53 that provides the Achilles heel for Notch-induced tumors, as activation of p53 in the presence of Notch signaling drives tumor regression. Our study provides proof-of-principle for the rational targeting of therapeutics against the mdm2-p53 pathway in Notch-induced neoplasms. Furthermore, we propose that suppression of p53 by Notch is a key mechanism underlying the initiation of T-cell lymphoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research