Morphologic conversion of a neuroblastoma-derived cell line by E6-mediated p53 degradation

S. V. Gaitonde, W. Qi, R. R. Falsey, N. Sidell, J. D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Neuroblastoma-derived tumor cells, unlike cells from other tumor types, characteristically express a wild-type but cytoplasmically sequestered p53 protein. To ascertain whether the p53 in these cells retained any physiological activity, we inactivated it in SK-N-SH cells, a neuroblastoma-derived cell line, by introducing the human papilloma virus type 16 E6 expression plasmid. Parent SK-N-SH cell cultures are composed of two cell types exhibiting characteristic morphologies designated neuroblastic (N-type) or substrate-adherent fibroblastic (S-type) cells, both of which have been shown to spontaneously transdifferentiate or interconvert. We report here that down-regulation of p53 resulted in conversion of SK-N-SH cells to the substrate-adherent fibroblast-like S-type cells. The morphologic conversion was accompanied by a loss of neurofilament expression, a marker for the neuronal N-type cells, an increase in the expression of vimentin, and a lack of responsiveness to retinoic acid-induced neuronal differentiation. Importantly, we did not observe N-type cells in the E6-transfected cell population, suggesting that they were incapable of transdifferentiating to the N-type morphology. We also tested the ability of these E6-transfected S-type cells to form colonies in soft agar and observed a markedly reduced capacity of these cells to do so when compared with the parent and mutant E6-transfected cells. These results suggest that p53 is required for the maintenance of the neuroblastic tumorigenic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalCell Growth and Differentiation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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