The p53 tumour suppressor protein has defined roles in G1/S and G2/M cell cycle checkpoints in response to a range of cellular stresses including DNA damage, dominant oncogene expression, hypoxia, metabolic changes and viral infection. In addition to these responses, p53 can also be activated when damage occurs to the mitotic spindle. Initially, spindle damage activates a p53-independent checkpoint which functions at the metaphase-anaphase transition and prevents cells from progressing through mitosis until the completion of spindle formation. Cells eventually escape from this block (a process termed 'mitotic slippage'), and an aberrant mitosis ensues in which sister chromatids fail to segregate properly. After a delay period, p53 responds to this mitotic failure by instituting a G1-like growth arrest, with an intact nucleus containing 4N DNA, but without the cells undergoing division. Cells lacking wild-type p53 are still able to arrest transiently at mitosis, and also fail to undergo division, underscoring that the delay in mitosis is p53-independent. However, these cells are not prevented from re-entering the cell cycle and can reduplicate their DNA unchecked, leading to polyploidy. Additionally, p53-null cells which experience spindle failure often show the appearance of micronuclei arising from poorly segregated chromosomes which have decondensed and been enclosed in a nuclear envelope. The ability of p53 to prevent their formation suggests an additional G2 involvement which prevents nuclear breakdown prior to mitosis. The molecular mechanism by which p53 is able to sense mitotic failure is still unknown, but may be linked to the ability of p53 to regulate duplication of the centrosome, the organelle which nucleates spindle formation.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2000|