p53-independent apoptosis induced by paclitaxel through an indirect mechanism

Jennifer S. Lanni, Scott W. Lowe, Edward J. Licitra, Jun O. Liu, Tyler Jacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


The efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents may be determined by a number of different factors, including the genotype of the tumor cell. The p53 tumor suppressor gene frequently is mutated in human tumors, and this may contribute to chemotherapentic resistance. We tested the requirement for wild-type p53 in the response of tumor cells to treatment with paclitaxel (trade name Taxol), an antineoplastic agent that stabilizes cellular microtubules. Although paclitaxel is broadly effective against human tumor xenografts in mice, including some known to carry p53 mutations, we found that p53-containing mouse tumor cells were significantly more sensitive to direct treatment with this drug than were p53-deficient tumor cells. In an attempt to reconcile this apparent discrepancy, we examined the requirement for p53 in the cytotoxic effects of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), a cytokine released from murine macrophages upon paclitaxel treatment. Conditioned medium from paclitaxel-treated macrophages was capable of inducing p53-independent apoptosis when applied to transformed mouse embryonic fibroblasts and was inhibitable by antibodies against TNF-α. Furthermore, in response to direct treatment with TNF-α, both wild-type and p53-deficient tumor cells underwent apoptosis to similar extents and with similar kinetics. Our results suggest that the efficacy of paclitaxel in vivo may be due not only to its microtubule-stabilizing activity, but its ability to activate local release of an apoptosis-inducing cytokine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9679-9683
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2 1997
Externally publishedYes

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