Priority Research Papers:

A novel suicide gene therapy for the treatment of p16Ink4a-overexpressing tumors

Jaskaren Kohli, Judith Campisi and Marco Demaria _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:7274-7281. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23752

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Jaskaren Kohli1, Judith Campisi2,3 and Marco Demaria1,2

1 European Research Institute for the Biology of Aging, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

2 Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA, USA

3 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Sciences Division, Berkeley, CA, USA

Correspondence to:

Marco Demaria, email:

Keywords: p16Ink4a; sarcoma; cell cycle; cellular senescence; p53

Received: November 02, 2017 Accepted: December 13, 2017 Published: December 28, 2017


p16Ink4a is a potent cell cycle inhibitor engaged to support cell cycle arrest during cellular senescence. However, in tumors carrying mutations in key downstream effectors, p16Ink4a is highly expressed but fails to block cell proliferation. p16Ink4a-overexpressing tumor cells are highly aggressive and no targeted interventions are available. To study the effect of specific therapies, we generated murine sarcomas by overexpressing RAS oncogene and disrupting p53 activity. We observed that p16Ink4a-overxpressing murine sarcoma cells were resistant to ABT-263 and ABT-737, anti-cancer small molecules previously shown to eliminate p16Ink4a+ senescent cells. We then generated sarcoma cells carrying a suicide and reporter gene, called 3MR, under the regulation of the full p16Ink4a promoter. Activation of the suicide efficiently killed p16Ink4a-overxpressing sarcoma cells in vitro and in vivo.

These data suggest that suicide gene therapy could represent an important therapeutic approach for the treatment of highly aggressive p16Ink4a+ cancers.

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