MDM4 expression as an indicator of TP53 reactivation by combined targeting of MDM2 and MDM4 in cancer cells without TP53 mutation

Mitsuaki Hirose1, Kenji Yamato1, Shinji Endo1, Rie Saito1, Takunori Ueno1, Sachiko Hirai1, Hideo Suzuki1, Masato Abei1, Yukikazu Natori2 and Ichinosuke Hyodo1

1 Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

2 RNAi Company Ltd., Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan


Kenji Yamato, email:

Keywords: siRNA, p53, MDM2, MDM4, knockdown, TP53-reactivation

Received: November 05, 2014 Accepted: November 24, 2014 Published: November 25, 2014


MDM2 and MDM4, a structurally related MDM2 homolog, negatively regulates expression and functions of TP53 tumor suppressor gene. To explore the precise expression patterns and function of MDM2 and MDM4 in wild-type (wt) TP53 cancer cells, we analyzed 11 various cancer cell lines with wt TP53. All cell lines exhibited deregulated expression of MDM2 and MDM4, and were divided into two distinct types; the one expressing high levels of MDM4 and another expressing low levels of MDM4. The low MDM4 type expressed higher MDM2 levels than the high MDM4 type. In cells with high MDM4 expression, knockdown of MDM4 or MDM2 reactivated TP53, and simultaneous knockdown of MDM2 and MDM4 synergistically reactivated TP53. In contrast, in cells with low MDM4 expression, knockdown of only MDM2 reactivated TP53. These results suggest that both MDM2 and MDM4 are closely involved in TP53 inactivation in cancer cells with high MDM4 expression, whereas only MDM2, and not MDM4, is a regulator of TP53 in cells with low MDM4 expression. MDM4 expression in wt TP53-tumors is a potential indicator for TP53 reactivation cancer therapy by simultaneous targeting of MDM4 and MDM2. Specific knockdown of MDM2 and MDM4 might be applicable for TP53 restoration therapy.

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