Specific activation of the p53 pathway by low dose actinomycin D: A new route to p53 based cyclotherapy Meng Ling Choong, Henry Yang, May Ann Lee, David P. Lane Cell Cycle Vol. 8, Iss. 17, 2009
The activation of p53 has been proposed as a novel anti-cancer treatment in two distinct contexts. In the first activation of p53 in tumor cells can promote apoptosis and senescence and enhance the anti-tumor activity of cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drugs. In the second application activation of p53 in normal tissues can cause a reversible cell cycle arrest that can be used to protect normal cells from the action of anti-mitotics. In this cyclotherapy role p53 mutant tumor cells are not arrested and remain sensitive to anti-mitotics. The advent of specific p53 activating molecules such as nutlin-3 has encouraged both approaches. We have sought for a clinically approved drug that can mimic nutlin-3. We show here that low doses of actinomycin D mimic nutlin-3 in the highly specific activation of p53 dependant transcription, in the induction of a reversible protective growth arrest in normal cells and in the enhancement of the activity of chemotherapeutic drug induced killing of p53 positive human tumor cells. While high doses of actinomycin D reveal its more non-specific activities, low doses of the drug will allow exploration of the value of p53 activation in preclinical and clinical models before nutlin-3 like drugs are approved.
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