Induction of wild-type p53 activity in human cancer cells by ribozymes that repair mutant p53 transcripts.
Several groups have attempted to develop gene therapy strategies to treat cancer via introduction of the wild-type (wt) p53 cDNA into cancer cells. Unfortunately, these approaches do not result in regulated expression of the p53 gene and do not reduce expression of the mutant p53 that is overexpressed in cancerous cells. These shortcomings may greatly limit the utility of this gene replacement approach. We describe an alternative strategy with trans-splicing ribozymes that can simultaneously reduce mutant p53 expression and restore wt p53 activity in various human cancers. The ribozyme accomplished such conversion by repairing defective p53 mRNAs with high fidelity and specificity. The corrected transcripts were translated to produce functional p53 that can transactivate p53-responsive promoters and down-modulate expression of the multidrug resistance (MDR1) gene promoter. The level of wt p53 activity generated was significant, resulting in a 23-fold induction of a p53-responsive promoter and a 3-fold reduction in MDR1 promoter expression in transfected cancer cells. Once efficient delivery systems are developed, this strategy should prove useful for making human cancers more responsive to p53 activity and more sensitive to chemotherapeutic agents.
Watanabe, T; Sullenger, BA
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