Role of p53/p21Waf1/Cip1 in the regulation of polyamine analogue-induced growth inhibition and cell death in human breast cancer cells

Yi Huang, Allison Pledgie, Ethel Rubin, Laurence J. Marton, Patrick M. Woster, Saraswati Sukumar, Robert A. Casero, Nancy E. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Intracellular polyamines are absolutely required for cell proliferation and many tumors have abnormal requirements for polyamines. Therefore, the polyamine metabolic pathway represents a rational target for antineoplastic intervention. A number of polyamine analogues act as potent modulators of cellular polyamine metabolism and exhibit encouraging effects against tumor growth in both cell culture and animal studies. In this study we demonstrate that specific polyamine analogues exhibit differential inhibitory action against growth of human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Treatment of MCF-7 cells with oligoamine analogues and the symmetrically substituted bis(alkyl)-substituted analogue, BENSpm, produced a G1 cell cycle arrest, while the unsymmetrically substituted bis(alkyl)-substituted analogue, CHENSpm, induced a G2/M cell cycle arrest. All four compounds significantly upregulated p53 and p21 expression in MCF-7 cells. Stable transfection of small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting p53 blocked the expression of p21 induced by the polyamine analogues and significantly reduced polyamine analogue-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis, suggesting that polyamine analogue-induced p21 expression occurs through p53-dependent mechanisms. The effects of analogue exposure on cyclins and cyclin dependent kinases varied with the specific agent used. Expression of p53 siRNA reversed only BENSpm-modulated the cell cycle arrest, suggesting that regulation of cell cycle arrest by p53/p21 induced by polyamine analogues occurs through agent-specific mechanisms. Understanding the mechanism of p53-mediated cellular responses to polyamine analogue may help to improve the therapeutic efficacy of polyamine analogues in human breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1013
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Breast cancer cells
  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Cell death
  • Polyamine analogues
  • p53/p21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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