Characterization of an oncogenic isoform of TP53: Δ160p53

Ana Catarina Ramalho et al.

The transcription factor p53 is a key cell regulator, having roles in varied cellular processes. Widely known as a tumour suppressor protein, p53 is responsible for signalling the adequate response to DNA damage, oncogenic signalling, or other stress stimuli. The target genes of this protein are involved in cell cycle arrest, senescence, apoptosis, and DNA damage response, among other pathways. Besides the full-length p53 (FLp53), to which these functions are attributed, the TP53 gene encodes for eleven other protein isoforms that result from alternative splicing, internal initiation of translation and transcription from an internal promoter. In striking contrast to FLp53, the N-terminally truncated Δ160p53 exhibits pro-oncogenic traits1, although it only differs from FLp53 by the lack of its first 159 amino acids2. Δ160p53 promotes cell survival, proliferation, invasion, and adhesion, and it is overexpressed in cancer cells harbouring hotspot p53 mutants. The TP53 gene is frequently mutated in cancer, and hotspot mutants result from single missense mutations that convert p53 in a driver of tumorigenesis. As Δ160p53 presents many of the oncogenic roles attributed to p53 cancer mutants, it is plausible that this isoform could be responsible for the paradoxical mutant p53 functions. However, detailed knowledge on the mode of action of Δ160p53 is still lacking. We have performed additional tests to further characterize the oncogenic traits of this isoform. To evaluate the ability of Δ160p53 to promote anchorage-independent cell growth, we have used the soft agar colony formation assay. Preliminary results show a tendency of Δ160p53 to promote growth, when compared to the control and other isoforms. Our new data complements our previous knowledge on Δ160p53 and reinforces the importance of studying this isoform for therapeutic targeting.

Characterization of an oncogenic isoform of TP53: Δ160p53