Radiosensitization of lung cancer by nutlin, an inhibitor of murine double minute 2

Carolyn Cao, Eric T. Shinohara, Ty K. Subhawong, Ling Geng, Kwang Woon Kim, Jeffrey M. Albert, Dennis E. Hallahan, Bo Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


p53 plays a critical role in cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis. Certain malignancies carry wild-type p53, which is frequently down-regulated by murine double minute 2 (MDM2) overexpression. Availability of a small-molecule inhibitor against MDM2, nutlin, has made it feasible to evaluate the anti-MDM2-based therapeutic strategies. The rationale for the current study is that functional p53 has been linked with improved responses to radiation treatment. Hence, this study evaluates the use of nutlin, a small-molecule inhibitor that blocks the interaction of p53 and MDM2, in sensitizing cancer cells to radiation. Expression of MDM2, p53, and p21 in both p53 wild-type and p53-defective lung cancer cell lines was examined. Clonogenic and 7-amino-actinomycin D studies were used to determine possible mechanisms of cell death. The combined effect of MDM2 inhibition and radiation on cell cycle was also studied. We found that radiosensitization by nutlin occurs in lung cancer cells with wild-type p53. There were increased apoptosis and cell cycle arrest following administration of nutlin and radiation. Furthermore, the combination of nutlin and radiation decreased the ability of endothelial cells to form vasculature, as shown by Matrigel assays. Our data suggest that nutlin is an effective radiosensitizer of p53 wild-type cells. The radiosensitizing effect seems to be at least partially due to induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. In addition, nutlin may be an effective radiosensitizer of tumor vasculature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-417
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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