Mutant p53 gain of function underlies high expression levels of colorectal cancer stem cells markers

Hilla Solomon, Nathan Dinowitz, Ioannis S. Pateras, Tomer Cooks, Yoav Shetzer, Alina Molchadsky, Meital Charni, Stav Rabani, Gabriela Koifman, Ohad Tarcic, Ziv Porat, Ira Kogan-Sakin, Naomi Goldfinger, Moshe Oren, Curtis C. Harris, Vassilis G. Gorgoulis, Varda Rotter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Emerging notion in carcinogenesis ascribes tumor initiation and aggressiveness to cancer stem cells (CSCs). Specifically, colorectal cancer (CRC) development was shown to be compatible with CSCs hypothesis. Mutations in p53 are highly frequent in CRC, and are known to facilitate tumor development and aggressiveness. Yet, the link between mutant p53 and colorectal CSCs is not well-established. In the present study, we set to examine whether oncogenic mutant p53 proteins may augment colorectal CSCs phenotype. By genetic manipulation of mutant p53 in several cellular systems, we demonstrated that mutant p53 enhances colorectal tumorigenesis. Moreover, mutant p53-expressing cell lines harbor larger sub-populations of cells highly expressing the known colorectal CSCs markers: CD44, Lgr5, and ALDH. This elevated expression is mediated by mutant p53 binding to CD44, Lgr5, and ALDH1A1 promoter sequences. Furthermore, ALDH1 was found to be involved in mutant p53-dependent chemotherapy resistance. Finally, analysis of ALDH1 and CD44 in human CRC biopsies indicated a positive correlation between their expression and the presence of oncogenic p53 missense mutations. These findings suggest novel insights pertaining the mechanism by which mutant p53 enhances CRC development, which involves the expansion of CSCs sub-populations within CRC tumors, and underscore the importance of targeting these sub-populations for CRC therapy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1669-1684
Number of pages16
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

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