Suramin increases p53 protein levels but does not activate the p53-dependent G1 checkpoint

Steven P. Howard, Sonia J. Park, Luke Hughes-Davies, C. Norman Coleman, Brendan D. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Suramin is an antineoplastic agent which has a cytostatic effect on both normal and tumor-derived cells. We have investigated whether the induction of growth arrest by suramin requires the p53 protein, a tumor suppressor gene product involved in the initiation of growth arrest following DNA damage. Activation of the p53 protein by genotoxic agents causes increased p53 protein levels and p53-dependent transcription of the p21 gene. The p21 protein then inhibits cyclin-dependent kinases, initiating G1 arrest. Exposure of NIH-3T3 cells to suramin caused a rapid (1-2 h) increase in the level of p53-DNA-binding activity. Flow cytometric analysis indicated that suramin arrested NIH-3T3 cells in G0-G1. However, suramin did not increase the p53-dependent transcription of the p21 gene or inhibit cyclin-dependent kinase 2 kinase activity. If NIH-3T3 cells were exposed to radiation or suramin plus radiation, p21 mRNA levels were increased and cyclin-dependent kinase 2 kinase activity was inhibited, indicating that suramin does not block the cells' ability to increase p21 levels. To determine whether the G0-G1 arrest induced by suramin required p55, NIH-3T3 cells transfected with a dominant negative mutant p55 gene to eliminate wild-type p53 function (NMP cells) were exposed to suramin. NMP cells still exhibited G0-G1 arrest after suramin treatment. Suramin increases p53 protein levels, but fails to increase p21 mRNA levels or to activate the G1 checkpoint. These data suggest that suramin induces growth arrest in NIH-3T3 cells by a mechanism that is independent of cellular p55 status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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