We have previously reported that heat stress induces expression of wild-type TP53 (formerly known as p53) activated factor 1 (CDKN1A, formerly known as WAF1) only when TP53 protein is wild-type using cells of a human glioblastoma cell line (A-172) and cells of its transformant (A-172/mp53/143) with a mutant TP53 (point mutation at codon 143 from Val to Ala) vector. Transfection of A-172 cells with the mutant TP53 vector abolished the heat-induced expression of CDKN1A, demonstrating the dominant negative nature of this TP53 mutant over the endogenous wild-type TP53. This kind of dominant negative TP53 mutant occurs frequently in various types of cancer. Overcoming this dominance or restoring the normal functions to these TP53 mutants is a new strategy for TP53-targeted cancer therapies. We examined whether glycerol can act as a chemical chaperone to correct the mutant TP53 conformation. No CDKN1A expression was induced after heating or treatment with glycerol at concentrations of 0.6 and 1.2 M in these transformants. In contrast, A-172/mp53/143 cells showed CDKN1A expression when they were heated in the presence of glycerol at 0.6 or 1.2 M, which was similar to the response of the parental and neo vector-transfected control cells. To test the generality of the effects of glycerol on mutant TP53, we used human osteosarcoma Saos-2 cells (lacking TP53) transfected with mutant TP53 and cells of two other human glioblastoma cell lines carrying mutant TP53. These cells showed similar CDKN1A expression when heated in the presence of glycerol at 0.6 or 1.2 M. These results suggest that glycerol is effective in restoring several TP53 mutants to normal TP53 function, leading to normal CDKN1A expression after heat stress. This observation provides a novel tool for correction of mutant TP53 conformation and may be applicable for TP53-targeted cancer therapy.

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