CDKN1C/P57 is regulated by the Notch target gene Hes1 and induces senescence in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Catia Giovannini, Laura Gramantieri, Manuela Minguzzi, Francesca Fornari, Pasquale Chieco, Gian Luca Grazi, Luigi Bolondi

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CDKN1C/P57 is a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor implicated in different human cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, little is known regarding the role of CDKN1C/P57 and its regulation in HCC. In this study, we show that the down-regulation of Notch1 and Notch3 in two HCC cell lines resulted in Hes1 down-regulation, CDKN1C/P57 up-regulation, and reduced cell growth. In line with these data, we report that CDKN1C/P57 is a target of transcriptional repression by the Notch effector, Hes1. We found that the up-regulation of CDKN1C/P57 by cDNA transfection decreased tumor growth, as determined by growth curve, flow cytometry analysis, and cyclin D1 down-regulation, without affecting the apoptosis machinery. Indeed, the expression of Bax, Noxa, PUMA, BNIP3, and cleaved caspase-3 was not affected by CDKN1C/P57 induction. Morphologically CDKN1C/p57-induced HCC cells became flat and lengthened in shape, accumulated the senescence-associated β-galactosidase marker, and increased P16 protein expression. Evaluation of senescence in cells depleted both for Hes1 and CDKN1C/P57 revealed that the senescent state really depends on the accumulation of CDKN1C/p57. Finally, we validated our in vitro results in primary HCCs, showing that Hes1 protein expression inversely correlates with CDKN1C/P57 mRNA levels. In addition, reduced Hes1 protein expression is accompanied by a shorter time to recurrence after curative resection, suggesting that Hes1 may represent a biomarker for prediction of patients with poor prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-422
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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