Gene expression and apoptosis induction in p53-heterozygous irradiated mice

Alessandra Di Masi, Antonio Antoccia, Ivan Dimauro, Alberta Argentino-Storino, Alberto Mosiello, Ruggiero Mango, Giuseppe Novelli, Caterina Tanzarella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of the p53-genetic background in the expression of genes involved in either cell cycle checkpoint activation or apoptosis was evaluated in p53+/+ and p53+/- mouse strains at both basal levels and after DNA-induced damage. The spleen, colon, kidneys, lungs and liver of both strains were harvested from untreated animals and from mice exposed to 7.5 Gy of X-rays and sacrificed after 5 h. No significant differences were observed in the basal levels of p53 protein, CDKN1A and bax mRNA and spontaneous apoptosis, neither among the different organs within the same strain, nor between the same organ in the p53+/+ and p53+/- strains. After X-ray exposure, p53-dependent regulation was strikingly tissue-specific. In wild-type irradiated mice, p53 protein level increased after radiation treatment in all the organs analysed, whereas both CDKN1A and bax genes transcription increased in the spleen, colon and lungs, as assessed by means of quantitative RT-PCR. In p53+/- irradiated mice, on the contrary, a significant p53 induction was detected only in the spleen, while CDKN1A and bax genes levels increased in the spleen, colon and lungs, revealing the existence of different mechanisms of gene regulation in different organs. Apoptosis induction was observed in the spleen and colon of both strains, even if to lower extent in p53+/- mice compared to p53+/+ animals. In conclusion, in the spleen and colon, target gene transcription and apoptosis may be related to p53 genotype after DNA damage-induction. Moreover, our findings highlight the selectivity of p53 in transactivation following DNA damage in vivo, resulting in tissue-specific responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages14
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 22 2006


  • Apoptosis
  • bax
  • CDKN1A
  • Ionising radiation
  • p53-heterozygous mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Molecular Biology


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