Role of wild-type p53 on the antineoplastic activity of temozolomide alone or combined with inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase.
High-level expression of the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) correlates with cellular resistance to the chloroethylnitrosourea (CENU) class of alkylating agents. Consequently, tumors expressing low levels of MGMT are sensitive to CENU chemotherapy, and any mechanism that can be used to reduce MGMT levels could sensitize resistant tumors. We have demonstrated that transient transfection of wild-type, but not mutant, p53 protein into a p53-null cell line, Saos-2, suppresses MGMT promoter activity in a reporter gene system. In addition, following a 24-h transduction of IMR90 fibroblasts with a wild-type p53-adenoviral vector, endogenous MGMT protein is down-regulated and is no longer detectable 5 days following infection. Because p53 is inducible by ionizing radiation, we propose that existing cancer therapy regimens that combine radiotherapy with CENU chemotherapy may be improved by altering scheduling and allowing enough time between the two therapies for the relatively stable MGMT protein to degrade.