A p53/TIAF1/WWOX triad exerts cancer suppression but may cause brain protein aggregation due to p53/WWOX functional antagonism

Pei Yi Chou, Sing Ru Lin, Ming Hui Lee, Lori Schultz, Chun I. Sze, Nan Shan Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Tumor suppressor WWOX physically binds p53 and TIAF1 and together induces apoptosis and tumor suppression. To understand the molecular action, here we investigated the formation of WWOX/TIAF1/p53 triad and its regulation of cancer cell migration, anchorage-independent growth, SMAD promoter activation, apoptosis, and potential role in neurodegeneration. Methods: Time-lapse microscopy was used to measure the extent of cell migration. Protein/protein interactions were determined by co-immunoprecipitation, FRET microscopy, and yeast two-hybrid analysis. The WWOX/TIAF1/p53 triad-mediated cancer suppression was determined by measuring the extent of cell migration, anchorage-independent growth, SMAD promoter activation, and apoptosis. p53-deficient lung cancer cell growth in nude mice was carried out to assess the tumor suppressor function of ectopic p53 and/or WWOX. Results: Wwox-deficient MEF cells exhibited constitutive Smad3 and p38 activation and migrated individually and much faster than wild type cells. TGF-β increased the migration of wild type MEF cells, but significantly suppressed Wwox knockout cell migration. While each of the triad proteins is responsive to TGF-β stimulation, ectopically expressed triad proteins suppressed cancer cell migration, anchorage-independent growth, and SMAD promoter activation, as well as caused apoptosis. The effects are due in part to TIAF1 polymerization and its retention of p53 and WWOX in the cytoplasm. p53 and TIAF1 were effective in suppressing anchorage-independent growth, and WWOX ineffective. p53 and TIAF1 blocked WWOX or Smad4-regulated SMAD promoter activation. WWOX suppressed lung cancer NCI-H1299 growth and inhibited splenomegaly by inflammatory immune response, and p53 blocked the event in nude mice. The p53/WWOX-cancer mice exhibited BACE upregulation, APP degradation, tau tangle formation, and amyloid β generation in the brain and lung. Conclusion: The WWOX/TIAF1/p53 triad is potent in cancer suppression by blocking cancer cell migration, anchorage-independent growth and SMAD promoter activation, and causing apoptosis. Yet, p53 may functionally antagonize with WWOX. p53 blocks WWOX inhibition of inflammatory immune response induced by cancer, and this leads to protein aggregation in the brain as seen in the Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 17

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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