International journal of molecular medicine

Gain-of-function p53 mutant with 21-bp deletion confers susceptibility to multidrug resistance in MCF-7 cells.

PMID 26572087


The majority of p53 mutations, which are responsible for gain of oncogenic function, are missense mutations in hotspot codons. However, in our previous study, we demonstrated that a deletion spanning codons 127-133 in the p53 gene (designated as del p53) was detected in doxorubicin-resistant MCF-7 cell lines following various induction processes. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the role of del p53 and its association with the proliferation, metastasis and drug resistance of MCF-7 cells. The MCF-7/del p53 cell line is a representative of the del p53 stably expressed clones which were constructed by transfection of the del p53-containing construct into MCF-7/wt cells. Markers of multidrug resistance (MDR), epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and stem cell-like properties were examined in the MCF-7/del p53 cells. The results revealed that the MCF-7/del p53 cells expressed full-length p53 and del p53 mRNA and protein, as well as P-glycoprotein (P-gp). The MCF-7/del p53 cells acquired resistance to doxorubicin with increased P-gp efflux function. Using a transient expression assay, the mdr1 promoter was found to be significantly activated by external or integrated del p53 (P<0.001). The inhibition of nuclear factor (NF)-κB by cyclosporine sensitized the MCF-7/del p53 cells to doxorubicin toxicity. In addition, the morphological characteristics of the MCF-7/del p53 and MCF-7/adr were similar. EMT was observed in the MCF-7/del p53 cells as demonstrated by the presence of the mesenchymal markers, Slug and vimentin, and the decrease in the epithelial marker, cadherin 1, type 1, E-cadherin (CDH1), as well as an enhanced migration ability (P<0.001). Furthermore, the number of cells expressing the cancer stem cell-like marker, CD44, increased, accompanied by mammosphere formation. Taken together, these findings indicate that the expression of del p53 in MCF-7/del p53 cells enables the cells to partially acquire doxorubicin resistance characteristics of the MCF-7/adr cells. Thus, del p53 may be an important factor in non-invasive MCF-7 cells, activating NF-κB signaling and the mdr1 promoter and partially attributing to EMT; the cells thus acquire stem cell‑like properties, which facilitates drug resistance. Therefore, the 21-bp deletion of p53 may prove to be a therapeutic strategy with which to prevent cancer cells from acquiring resistance to drugs.