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P53 Is Involved in a Three-Dimensional Architecture-Mediated Decrease in Chemosensitivity in Colon Cancer

Three-dimensional (3D) culture models represent a better approximation of solid tumor tissue architecture, especially cell adhesion, in vivo than two-dimensional (2D) cultures do. Here, we explored the role of architecture in chemosensitivity to platinum in colon cancer. Under the 3D culture condition, colon cancer cells formed multicellular spheroids, consisting of layers of cells. 3D cultures displayed significantly decreased sensitivity to platinum compared with 2D cultures. Platinum increased p53 in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner. There was no detectable difference in basal p53 levels between 3D cultures and 2D cultures but cisplatin induced less p53 in both HCT116 3D cultures and LoVo 3D cultures. It was not due to cisplatin concentration because cisplatin induced similar γ-H2AX in 3D vs 2D. Knockdown of p53 significantly decreased sensitivity to platinum in 3D cultures. Knockdown of p53 decreased cleaved caspase 3 and apoptosis induced by cisplatin. These findings indicate that 3D architecture confers decreased chemosensitivity to platinum and p53 is involved in the mechanism. Knockdown of p53 decreased cisplatin's induction of c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1/2 (JNK1/2) activation, whereas inhibition of JNK1/2 activation increased chemosensitivity. Inhibition of p38 activation decreased cisplatin's induction of p53, but no difference in p38 activation by cisplatin was observed between 2D cultures and 3D cultures. Taken together, our results suggest that p53 is involved in a 3D architecture-mediated decrease in chemosensitivity to platinum in colon cancer. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (JNK1/2 and p38) do not play a dominant role in the mechanism.

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