Resistance to apoptosis contributes to tumorigenesis as well as poor therapeutic outcome. The tumor suppressor p53 mediates two predominant cellular responses, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, but the molecular basis for this cell fate determination has remained elusive. It is proposed that an interplay between p53-independent effectors and p53-dependent gene expression may be the crucial determinant for cellular outcome. The proposed studies test this hypothesis by focusing on the role of p21CIR1 as an attenuator of the apoptotic response, examining the interplay between Sp/KLF family members and p53 on regulating gene expression, and elucidating whether alterations in basal levels of expression of key members of apoptotic pathways contribute to cell fate decisions. The ability of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 to nterfere with apoptosis and influence cell fate has been suggested by published studies as well as preliminary data. In the first aim, the role of p21GIP1 in attenuating the cell death response will be validated and characterized and the underlying molecular basis for this intriguing effect of p21GIP1 will be elucidated. Multiple p53 response elements located in both the promoter and first intron are involved in the DNA damage-induced upregulation of p21CIR1 with the two sites in the p21GIP1 promoter being regulated in distinct manners. In the second aim, the molecular basis for the differences between the two types of p53 sites will be elucidated and the interplay between p53, Sp1, and other Sp/KLF family members will be examined. The key role of other cellular factors such as Sp/KLF family members in p53-dependent gene regulation will be addressed as a means for influencing cellular outcomes. Regulating the basal levels of expression of key components of apoptotic pathways is an alternative mechanism for determining cell fate outcomes. Elements in the bax gene that confer constitutive transcriptional regulation of Bax have been identified. In the third aim, the molecular basis for this will be explored to determine whether such mechanisms can explain the apoptotic resistant phenotype of particular tumor cells. It is expected that some of these factors may contribute to tumorigenesis and to therapeutic responsiveness of tumor cells due to effects on Bax expression and changes in cell death outcomes. Depending upon particular cellular conditions, the tumor suppressor protein p53 induces growth arrest or mediates an apoptotic response. The optimal therapeutic response to DNA damage caused by many chemotherapeutic agents is cell death rather than inhibition of cell cycle progression. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for regulating the ability of p53 to trigger apoptosis versus arrest may lead to more effective therapeutic intervention and a way to overcome the chemotherapeutic-resistant phenotype found in many tumors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
High Priority, Short Term Project Award (R56)
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Study Section
Cancer Etiology Study Section (CE)
Program Officer
Blair, Donald G
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Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Chander, Harish; Halpern, Max; Resnick-Silverman, Lois et al. (2010) Skp2B attenuates p53 function by inhibiting prohibitin. EMBO Rep 11:220-5