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Regulation of nucleotide metabolism by mutant p53 contributes to its gain-of-function activities


Mutant p53 (mtp53) is an oncogene that drives cancer cell proliferation. Here we report that mtp53 associates with the promoters of numerous nucleotide metabolism genes (NMG). Mtp53 knockdown reduces NMG expression and substantially depletes nucleotide pools, which attenuates GTP-dependent protein activity and cell invasion. Addition of exogenous guanosine or GTP restores the invasiveness of mtp53 knockdown cells, suggesting that mtp53 promotes invasion by increasing GTP. In addition, mtp53 creates a dependency on the nucleoside salvage pathway enzyme deoxycytidine kinase for the maintenance of a proper balance in dNTP pools required for proliferation. These data indicate that mtp53-harbouring cells have acquired a synthetic sick or lethal phenotype relationship with the nucleoside salvage pathway. Finally, elevated expression of NMG correlates with mutant p53 status and poor prognosis in breast cancer patients. Thus, mtp53's control of nucleotide biosynthesis has both a driving and sustaining role in cancer development.

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