Oxidative stress activates a specific p53 transcriptional response that regulates cellular senescence and aging
Transgenic mice with both alleles of the p53 tumor suppressor gene (frequently mutated in human tumors) knocked out by gene targeting provide a potentially useful tumorigenesis model because these mice rapidly develop spontaneous tumors. To determine whether tumorigenesis in p53-knockout mice is sensitive to experimental manipulation, tumor development in response to calorie restriction (CR; a potent inhibitor of rodent tumors) was evaluated. Tumor development was monitored for 48 weeks in male nullizygous p53-knockout and wild-type littermate mice (28-30 per treatment group) fed ad libitum (AL) or restricted to 60% of AL carbohydrate calorie intake. CR:p53-knockout mice (median survival = 25 weeks) experienced a delay in tumor onset and subsequent mortality (P = 0.0002) relative to AL:p53-knockout mice (median survival = 16 weeks). Tumor development and mortality in wild-type littermates on either diet treatment were < 4% through 48 weeks. Cell cycle analyses were performed on splenocytes from p53-knockout mice and wild-type littermates after 4 weeks of AL feeding or CR (5 per group). The percentage of splenocytes in S phase of the cell cycle was 3-fold higher for p53-knockout mice than wild-type mice (P < 0.001), and CR reduced the percentage of S-phase splenocytes in both p53-knockout and wild-type mice (P = 0.012). These data demonstrate that tumor development in p53-knockout mice genetically predisposed to tumors can be delayed by CR (possibly via cell cycle modulation) and suggest that these mice provide a very useful model of spontaneous tumorigenesis.