Chemical biology approaches for the identification of novel p53 regulatory signalling pathways.
Rusilowicz, Emma Victoria
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p53 is a critical tumour suppressor which acts to repair or remove abnormal cells and thus prevent cancer. Aberrant function of p53 is therefore a critical step in tumourigenesis and p53 is mutated in half of all cancers. Mutation of p53 leads to both a loss of normal wildtype function as well as the gain of oncogenic function. p53 is considered to be a promising therapeutic target and therapeutic strategies for targeting of the p53 pathway include: 1. Activation of wild-type p53 (wtp53) protein function, 2. Refolding of mutant p53 (mtp53) into the wtp53 conformation, 3. Reduction of mtp53 protein levels. In this work a number of small molecule screening assays were used to identify potentially novel regulators of both wtp53 and mtp53. Screening of a protein kinase inhibitor library for small molecules which can stimulate wtp53 activity identified the GSK3 pathway and a CDK pathway as dominant suppressors of wtp53 function. Screening of the library for inhibitors which reduce mtp53 protein levels led to the identification of two IKKβ inhibitors. The work then focused on investigating the effects of one of these compounds, IMD0354, on the mutant p53 pathway; with a specific focus on MDM2 as the most rapidly responding biomarker. IMD0354 is a well characterised inhibitor which has been shown to specifically inhibit IKKβ leading to the repression of the Nf-κB pathway. This study shows that IKKβ inhibition leads to the loss of a number of oncogenic proteins including mtp53, MDM2 and cyclin D. Mass-spectrometry based (ITRAQ) proteomic analysis was then employed to identify potential mediators and/or co-regulated factors in response to IKKβ-inhibition via IMD0354 treatment. This led to the identification of RPS3 as a potential negative regulator of MDM2 protein expression; the reduction in MDM2 protein in response to IMD0354 treatment is shown to be partially dependent on RPS3. Together this data has identified, using small molecule kinase inhibitor libraries: (i) dominant kinase signalling pathways that suppress wt-p53 and (ii) a dominant kinase signalling pathway that sustains expression of mutant p53 and MDM2 in cancer cell lines. This latter data supports further investigation to aid understanding of how the IKK signalling pathway cross-talks to the p53-MDM2 axis.