Epithelial mutant p53 promotes resistance to anti-PD-1-mediated oral cancer immunoprevention in carcinogen-induced mouse models

Jin Wang, Yuan Hu, Vicente Escamilla-Rivera, Cassandra L. Gonzalez, Lin Tang, Bingbing Wang, Adel K. El-Naggar, Jeffrey N. Myers, Carlos Caulin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) develops through the multistep malignant progression of squamous epithelium. This process can be prevented by PD-1 blockade in a mouse model for oral carcinogenesis. OSCCs exhibit a high incidence of p53 mutations that confer oncogenic gain-of-function (GOF) activities that promote resistance to standard therapies and poor clinical outcomes. To determine whether epithelial p53 mutations modulate anti-PD-1-mediated oral cancer immunoprevention, we generated mouse models for oral carcinogenesis by exposing mice carrying epithelial-specific p53 mutations to the carcinogen 4NQO. Consistent with the oncogenic functions of mutant p53, mice with OSCCs expressing the p53R172H GOF mutation developed higher metastasis rates than mice with loss-of-function (LOF) p53 deletion or with wild-type p53. Throughout oral cancer progression, pre-invasive and invasive lesions showed a gradual increase in T-cell infiltration, recruitment of immunosuppressive regulatory T-cells (Tregs), and induction of PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint proteins. Notably, while PD-1 blockade prevented the development of OSCCs in mice with wild-type p53 or p53 deletion, GOF p53R172H abrogated the immunopreventive effects of antiPD-1, associated with upregulation of IL17 signaling and depletion of exhausted CD8 cells in the microenvironment of the p53R172H tumors. These findings sustain a potential role for p53 profiling in personalized oral cancer immunoprevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1471
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2 2021


  • Immunoprevention
  • Mutant p53
  • Oral cancer
  • PD-1
  • Premalignancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Epithelial mutant p53 promotes resistance to anti-PD-1-mediated oral cancer immunoprevention in carcinogen-induced mouse models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this