P53 frameshift mutations couple loss-of-function with unique neomorphic activities

David R. Tong, Wen Zhou, Chen Katz, Kausik Regunath, Divya Venkatesh, Chinyere Ihuegbu, James J. Manfredi, Oleg Laptenko, Carol Prives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


p53 mutations that result in loss of transcriptional activity are commonly found in numerous types of cancer. While the majority of these are missense mutations that map within the central DNAbinding domain, truncations and/or frameshift mutations can also occur due to various nucleotide substitutions, insertions, or deletions. These changes result in mRNAs containing premature stop codons that are translated into a diverse group of C-terminally truncated proteins. Here we characterized three p53 frameshift mutant proteins expressed from the endogenous TP53 locus in U2OS osteosarcoma and HCT116 colorectal cancer cell lines. These mutants retain intact DNA-binding domains but display altered oligomerization properties. Despite their abnormally high expression levels, they are mostly transcriptionally inactive and unable to initiate a stimuli-induced transcriptional program characteristic of wild-type p53. However, one of these variant p53 proteins, I332fs-14, which resembles naturally expressed TAp53 isoforms β and γ, retains some residual antiproliferative activity and can induce cellular senescence in HCT116 cells. Cells expressing this mutant also display decreased motility in migration assays. Hence, this p53 variant exhibits a combination of loss-of-gain and gain-offunction characteristics, distinguishing it from both wild type p53 and p53 loss. Implications: p53 frameshift mutants display a mixture of residual antiproliferative and neomorphic functions that may be differentially exploited for targeted therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1522-1523
Number of pages2
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


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