Functional p53 determines docetaxel sensitivity in prostate cancer cells

Chengfei Liu, Yezi Zhu, Wei Lou, Nagalakshmi Nadiminty, Xinbin Chen, Qinghua Zhou, Xu Bao Shi, Ralph W deVere White, Allen C Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Docetaxel is the first line treatment for castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, docetaxel resistance rapidly develops. Identifying the critical mechanisms giving rise to docetaxel resistance is the major challenge in advanced prostate cancer. METHODS The effects of docetaxel on human DU145, PC3, LNCaP, and C4-2 prostate cancer cells were examined in cell culture, and p53 expression were analyzed by Western blot analysis. The potential role of p53 in docetaxel sensitivity in prostate cancer cells was tested by either p53 silencing using shRNA or p53 overexpression by introducing wild-type p53. RESULTS We found that DU145 (mutant p53) and PC3 (p53 null) cells were less sensitive than LNCaP and C4-2 cells expressing functional p53 in response to docetaxel. Docetaxel treatment induces considerably higher apoptosis in LNCaP and C4-2 cells than in DU145 and PC3 cells in a dose dependent manner. Docetaxel increases the levels of ser15 phosphorylation of p53 in a dose dependent manner in both LNCaP and C4-2 cells, while has no effect on the levels of ser15 phosphorylation of p53 in DU145 cells. These results suggest that p53 phosphorylation is associated with docetaxel sensitivity in prostate cancer cells. To further confirm whether p53 activation can induce cell sensitivity to docetaxel treatment, we used p53 shRNA to knock down p53 expression in C4-2 cells and determined the cells response to docetaxel treatment. Knockdown of p53 significantly down regulated p53 phosphorylation and blocked docetaxel induced apoptotic cell death compared to the vector control. To further confirm this observation, we established a stable knock out p53 in C4-2 cells. Down regulation of p53 in the stable p53 knock out C4-2 cells significantly inhibited docetaxel induced apoptotic cell death. We also used wild-type (WT) p53 to over express p53 in DU145 cells, and found that expression of WT-p53 in DU145 cells increased their sensitivity to docetaxel. CONCLUSIONS These results demonstrate that docetaxel induces p53 phosphorylation and that p53 status is a crucial determinant of docetaxel sensitivity in prostate cancer cells. Prostate 73: 418-427, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • docetaxel
  • p53
  • prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Oncology


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