The role of p21 in interferon-gamma-mediated growth inhibition of human breast cancer cells

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IFN-gamma-mediated growth inhibition requires signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT)-1 activation and may require induction of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21. Using an electrophoretic mobility shift assay, we identified STAT1 activation after IFN-gamma treatment in breast cancer cell lines. Accordingly, IFN-gamma inhibited proliferation of monolayer cultured MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Interestingly, IFN-gamma inhibited anchorage-independent growth of MCF-7 cells but had no effect on MDA-MB-231 colony formation. Because p21 has been shown to play a role in anchorage-independent growth and is a transcriptional target of STAT1, we examined the effect of IFN-gamma on p21 mRNA. We found that IFN-gamma induced p21 mRNA in MCF-7 cells but not in MDA-MB-231 cells. Furthermore, IFN-gamma induced activation of a p21 promoter-luciferase reporter construct that contained the STAT1-inducible element in MCF-7 cells, but not in MDA-MB-231 cells. IFN-gamma treatment resulted in increased p21 protein in MCF-7 cells, whereas MDA-MB- 231 cells did not appear to express detectable p21, even after IFN-gamma treatment. However, in MDA-MB-231 cells, p21 protein was detected only after proteosome inhibition, suggesting that degradation may be responsible for the undetectable level of p21 in these cells, despite the abundant mRNA levels. Finally, focus formation of MDA-MB-231 cells was inhibited by overexpression of p21. In conclusion, STAT1 activation does not appear to be sufficient for IFN-γ-mediated growth inhibition. Furthermore, the role of p21 appears to be complex because monolayer growth inhibition occurs in the absence of p21, but anchorage-independent growth inhibition may require p21. Breast cancer cells may provide a unique model for further study of IFN-γ signaling.

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Cell Growth and Differentiation





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This article was published in Cell Growth and Differentiation, Volume 11, Issue 6, Pages 335-342.

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Copyright © 2000 American Association for Cancer Research.

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