A role for loss of p53 function in sensitivity of ovarian carcinoma cells to taxanes

Giuliana Cassinelli, Rosanna Supino, Paola Perego, Donatella Polizzi, Cinzia Lanzi, Graziella Pratesi, Franco Zunino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Loss of p53 function has been linked to increased responsiveness to taxane treatment of ovarian carcinoma in clinical studies. We recently reported that the acquisition of cisplatin resistance in an ovarian carcinoma cell line (IGROV-1) was associated with mutation of p53 and collateral sensitivity to paclitaxel. The increased sensitivity to paclitaxel of the cisplatin-resistant subline appeared to be pharmacologically relevant since it was reflected in an in vivo sensitization to taxanes. To investigate the cellular and molecular basis of this phenomenon, we performed a comparative study of cellular response to taxanes (paclitaxel and the novel analog IDN 5109) in the parental cell line, containing wild-type p53 and its cisplatin-resistant p53 mutant subline (IGROV-1/Pt1). IDN 5109 was included in this study because of its higher potency and efficacy compared with paclitaxel on both tumor systems. The pattern of cellular response of the two ovarian cell lines was different. In IGROV-1 cells, apoptosis was an early event consequent to a transient mitotic arrest. The cell death of IGROV-1/Pt1 cells was a somewhat slow and delayed event, following mitotic arrest and appearance of hyperploid cells. The increased cytotoxic effect of IDN 5109, compared with paclitaxel, was associated with more marked p34cdc2 dephosphorylation in IGROV-1 cells and higher Bc1-2 phosphorylation in IGROV-1/Pt1 cells after 24 hr of treatment. In each cell line, these biochemical events were not correlated with parallel levels of mitotic cells. Attempts to reintroduce wild-type p53 in IGROV-1/Pt1 were unsuccessful. However, in other p53-deficient cells (osteosarcoma SAOS), taxane treatment was associated with hyperploid progression and the introduction of wild-type p53 resulted in a reduced sensivity. Although our approach does not allow definitive conclusions, these results suggest that loss of p53-dependent post-mitotic checkpoint results in a different time-course of taxane-induced cell death following DNA reduplication. These events, more evident after exposure to the potent analog IDN 5109, support the notion that the enhanced sensitivity of p53 mutant cells is closely related to the different mode of cell death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-747
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Cell cycle checkpoint
  • Cell death
  • Ovarian carcinoma
  • P53
  • Taxanes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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