P53 regulates mesenchymal stem cell-mediated tumor suppression in a tumor microenvironment through immune modulation

Y. Huang, P. Yu, W. Li, G. Ren, A. I. Roberts, W. Cao, X. Zhang, J. Su, X. Chen, Q. Chen, P. Shou, C. Xu, L. Du, L. Lin, N. Xie, L. Zhang, Y. Wang, Y. Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


p53 is one of the most studied genes in cancer biology, and mutations in this gene may be predictive for the development of many types of cancer in humans and in animals. However, whether p53 mutations in non-tumor stromal cells can affect tumor development has received very little attention. In this study, we show that B16F0 melanoma cells form much larger tumors in p53-deficient mice than in wild-type mice, indicating a potential role of p53 deficiency in non-tumor cells of the microenvironment. As mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are attracted to tumors and form a major component of the tumor microenvironment, we examined the potential role of p53 status in MSCs in tumor development. We found that larger tumors resulted when B16F0 melanoma cells were co-injected with bone marrow MSCs derived from p53-deficient mice rather than MSCs from wild-type mice. Interestingly, this tumor-promoting effect by p53-deficient MSCs was not observed in non-obese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency mice, indicating the immune response has a critical role. Indeed, in the presence of inflammatory cytokines, p53-deficient MSCs expressed more inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and exhibited greater immunosuppressive capacity. Importantly, tumor promotion by p53-deficient MSCs was abolished by administration of S-methylisothiourea, an iNOS inhibitor. Therefore, our data demonstrate that p53 status in tumor stromal cells has a key role in tumor development by modulating immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3830-3838
Number of pages9
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 17 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • iNOS
  • immunomodulation
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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