Transient dephosphorylation of p53 serine 376 as an early response to ionizing radiation

Raymond L. Warters, David K. Gaffney, Gwen F. Kramer, Jesse D. Martinez, Anne E. Cress

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In a previous paper we reported that the cytoplasmic sequestered p53 in cells of the SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cell line could be induced to translocate to the nucleus by exposure to ionizing radiation. We have extended these studies to determine the fate of p53 in HCT116 colorectal carcinoma cells where constitutive p53 protein resides in the nucleus. A continuous increase in the nuclear p53 protein was observed in irradiated cells beginning 1 h after irradiation that persisted for 8 h. Surprisingly, immunofluorescence microscopy revealed a transient, rapid and sensitive increase in a radiation-induced nuclear dephosphorylated p53 using antibody PAb421, which detects p53 when serine 376 is dephosphorylated. The PAb421 epitope was detectable after exposure to radiation doses as low as 0.5 cGy and was 10 to 20 times more sensitive compared to detection of p53 protein levels. The results are consistent with a radiation-induced, sensitive and rapid dephosphorylation of p53 at serine 376. The rapid increase in the nuclear PAb421 epitope was blocked by the protein serine phosphatase inhibitor calyculin A but was not blocked by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide, suggesting that serine 376 was dephosphorylated by protein serine phosphatase 1 or 2A acting on pre-existing p53 protein. The data suggest that dephosphorylation of serine 376 on constitutive nuclear p53 is a sensitive and early signaling event in the response of cells to DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-734
Number of pages10
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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