p53 functional loss in a colon cancer cell line with two missense mutations (2181eu and 248trp) on separate alleles

A. Rand, K. S. Glenn, C. P. Alvares, M. B. White, S. M. Thibodeau, W. E. Karnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We have sequenced p53 in three colon cancer cell lines capable of autonomous proliferation. SNU-C1 and SNU-C4 cells, whose autonomous growth is dependent upon autocrine stimulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), had wild-type p53 sequence of exons 4-9. In contrast, an EGFR ligand-independent cell line, SNU-C5, had heterozygous missense mutations affecting codons 218 (valine to leucine) and 248 ( arginine to tryptophan) of p53. Bacterial cloning of p53 from SNU-C5 cells showed that the 248trp and 2181eu mutants were both expressed and on separate alleles. 248trp is a common 'hot spot' mutant of p53 with variable dominant negative activity depending on the celullar context. Valine 218, in contrast, is rarely affected by mutation in cancers and is located in a region of the hydrophobic core domain away from 'hot spot' DNA contact sights. However, valine 218 is completely conserved across species, prompting us to investigate the function of 2181eu in SNU-C5 cells. SNU-C5 cells exhibited complete loss of normal p53 function as evidenced by over-expression of p53 protein and by failure to show induction of p53, waf-1, mdm-2 or G1/S arrest in response to the DNA damaging agent, bleomycin. In a yeast p53 functional assay (FASAY), 50% of the clones were unable to transactivate a p53-specific promoter required for yeast colony expansion at 25, 30 or 37°C. Sequencing of the p53 insert from several randomly selected wild-type and mutant yeast clones revealed that 2181eu-bearing clones retained their ability to transactivate the p53-specific promoter. As expected, the 248trp-bearing clones lost this function. These data indicate that although 2181eu retains normal transactivation activity on a p53 promoter in yeast at physiological temperatures, it is not capable of normal p53 function in the presence of a 248trp allele in SNU-C5 cells. It remains unclear whether the strong dominant negative activity of 248trp in SNU-C5 cells is related to the cellular context or to an unresolved abnormality of 2181eu function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2 1996


  • Colon cancer cell line
  • Missense mutation
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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