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Ceramide modulates pre-mRNA splicing to restore the expression of wild-type tumor suppressor p53 in deletion-mutant cancer cells

Patwardhan, Gauri A., Hosain, Salman B., Liu, David X., Khiste, Sachin K., Zhao, Yunfeng, Bielawski, Jacek, Jazwinski, S. Michal, Liu, Yong-Yu
BBA - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids 2014 v.1841 pp. 1571-1580
DNA, animal ovaries, apoptosis, bioactive properties, ceramides, epigenetics, genes, heterozygosity, messenger RNA, mutants, neoplasm cells, ovarian neoplasms, phosphoprotein phosphatase, proteins
Mutants of tumor suppressor p53 not only lose the activity in genome stabilizing and in tumor suppression, but also exhibit oncogenic function in cancer cells. Most efforts in restoring p53 biological activity focus on either altering mutant-protein conformation or introducing an exogenous p53 gene into cells to eliminate p53-mutant cancer cells. Being different from these, we report that ceramide can restore the expression of wild-type p53 and induce p53-dependent apoptosis in deletion-mutant cancer cells. We show that endogenous long-carbon chain ceramide species (C16- to C24-ceramides) and exogenous C6-ceramide, rather than other sphingolipids, restore wild-type mRNA (intact exon-5), phosphorylated protein (Ser15 in exon-5) of p53, and p53-responsive proteins, including p21 and Bax, in ovarian cancer cells, which predominantly express a deleted exon-5 of p53 mutant before treatments. Consequently, the restored p53 sensitizes these p53-mutant cancer cells to DNA damage-induced growth arrest and apoptosis. Furthermore, we elucidate that ceramide activates protein phosphatase-1, and then the dephosphorylated serine/arginine-rich splicing-factor 1 (SRSF1) is translocated to the nucleus, thus promoting pre-mRNA splicing preferentially to wild-type p53 expression. These findings disclose an unrecognized mechanism that pre-mRNA splicing dysfunction can result in p53 deletion-mutants. Ceramide through SRSF1 restores wild-type p53 expression versus deletion-mutant and leads cancer cells to apoptosis. This suggests that heterozygous deletion-mutants of p53 can be restored in posttranscriptional level by using epigenetic approaches.