Components of the ras signaling pathway contribute to activation of cellular p53. In MCF-7 cells, p38 kinase activated p53 more effectively than other members of the ras pathway. p53 and p38 kinase exist in the same physical complex, and co-expression of p38 stabilized p53 protein. In vitro, p38 kinase phosphorylated p53 at Ser33 and Ser46, a newly identified site. Mutation of these sites decreased p53-mediated and UV-induced apoptosis, and the reduction correlated with total abrogation of UV-induced phosphorylation on Ser37 and a significant decrease in Ser15 phosphorylation in mutant p53 containing alanine at Ser33 and Ser46. Inhibition of p38 activation after UV irradiation decreased phosphorylation of Ser33, Ser37 and Ser15, and also markedly reduced UV-induced apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner. These results suggest that p38 kinase plays a prominent role in an integrated regulation of N-terminal phosphorylation that regulates p53-mediated apoptosis after UV radiation.
Response to genotoxic stress can be considered as a multistage process involving initiation of cell-cycle arrest and maintenance of arrest during DNA repair. Although maintenance of G2/M checkpoints is known to involve Chk1, Chk2/Rad53 and upstream components, the mechanisms involved in its initiation are less well defined. Here we report that p38 kinase has a critical role in the initiation of a G2 delay after ultraviolet radiation. Inhibition of p38 blocks the rapid initiation of this checkpoint in both human and murine cells after ultraviolet radiation. In vitro, p38 binds and phosphorylates Cdc25B at serines 309 and 361, and Cdc25C at serine 216; phosphorylation of these residues is required for binding to 14-3-3 proteins. In vivo, inhibition of p38 prevents both phosphorylation of Cdc25B at serine 309 and 14-3-3 binding after ultraviolet radiation, and mutation of this site is sufficient to inhibit the checkpoint initiation. In contrast, in vivo Cdc25C binding to 14-3-3 is not affected by p38 inhibition after ultraviolet radiation. We propose that regulation of Cdc25B phosphorylation by p38 is a critical event for initiating the G2/M checkpoint after ultraviolet radiation.
Expression of oncogenic Ras in primary human cells activates p53, thereby protecting cells from transformation. We show that in Ras-expressing IMR-90 cells, p53 is phosphorylated at Ser33 and Ser46 by the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Activity of p38 MAPK is regulated by the p53-inducible phosphatase PPM1D, creating a potential feedback loop. Expression of oncogenic Ras suppresses PPM1D mRNA induction, leaving p53 phosphorylated at Ser33 and Ser46 and in an active state. Retrovirus-mediated overexpression of PPM1D reduced p53 phosphorylation at these sites, abrogated Ras-induced apoptosis and partially rescued cells from cell-cycle arrest. Inactivation of p38 MAPK (the product of Mapk14) in vivo by gene targeting or by PPM1D overexpression expedited tumor formation after injection of mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) expressing E1A+Ras into nude mice. The gene encoding PPM1D (PPM1D, at 17q22/q23) is amplified in human breast-tumor cell lines and in approximately 11% of primary breast tumors, most of which harbor wildtype p53. These findings suggest that inactivation of the p38 MAPK through PPM1D overexpression resulting from PPM1D amplification contributes to the development of human cancers by suppressing p53 activation.
Gadd45a-null mice generated by gene targeting exhibited several of the phenotypes characteristic of p53-deficient mice, including genomic instability, increased radiation carcinogenesis and a low frequency of exencephaly. Genomic instability was exemplified by aneuploidy, chromosome aberrations, gene amplification and centrosome amplification, and was accompanied by abnormalities in mitosis, cytokinesis and growth control. Unequal segregation of chromosomes due to multiple spindle poles during mitosis occurred in several Gadd45a -/- cell lineages and may contribute to the aneuploidy. Our results indicate that Gadd45a is one component of the p53 pathway that contributes to the maintenance of genomic stability.
Deletion of Ppm1d, the gene encoding the Wip1 phosphatase, renders cells resistant to transformation and mice resistant to tumor development. Here, we report that deficiency of Wip1 resulted in activation of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase. In turn, overexpression of Wip1 was sufficient to reduce activation of the ATM-dependent signaling cascade after DNA damage. Wip1 dephosphorylated ATM Ser1981, a site critical for ATM monomerization and activation, and was critical for resetting ATM phosphorylation as cells repaired damaged DNA. We propose that the Wip1 phosphatase is an integral component of an ATM-dependent signaling pathway.
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