Mutant P53, stabilized by its interplay with HSP90, activates a positive feed-back loop between NRF2 and P62 that induces chemo-resistance to apigenin in pancreatic cancer cells

Maria Saveria Gilardini Montani, Nives Cecere, Marisa Granato, Maria Anele Romeo, Luca Falcinelli, Umberto Ciciarelli, Gabriella D’orazi, Alberto Faggioni, Mara Cirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers whose prognosis is worsened by the poor response to the current chemotherapies. In this study, we investigated the cytotoxic effect of Apigenin, against two pancreatic cell lines, namely Panc1 and PaCa44, harboring different p53 mutations. Apigenin is a flavonoid widely distributed in nature that displays anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties against a variety of cancers. Here we observed that Apigenin exerted a stronger cytotoxic effect against Panc1 cell line in comparison to PaCa44. Searching for mechanisms responsible for such different effect, we found that the higher cytotoxicity of Apigenin correlated with induction of higher level of intracellular ROS, reduction of mutant (mut) p53 and HSP90 expression and mTORC1 inhibition. Interestingly, we found that mutp53 was stabilized by its interplay with HSP90 and activates a positive feed-back loop between NRF2 and p62, up-regulating the antioxidant response and reducing the cytotoxicity of Apigenin. These results suggest that targeting the molecules involved in the mTOR-HSP90-mutp53-p62-NRF2-antioxidant response axis could help to overcome the chemo-resistance of pancreatic cancer to Apigenin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number703
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019



  • Apigenin
  • Autophagy
  • Catalase
  • HSP90
  • Mutp53
  • NRF2
  • P62
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • ROS
  • SOD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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