Induction of differentiation-dependent apoptosis in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma by adenovirus-mediated p21(sdi1) gene transfer

Yoshihiko Kadowaki, Toshiyoshi Fujiwara, Takuya Fukazawa, Jianghua Shao, Tatsuji Yasuda, Takahiro Itoshima, Shunsuke Kagawa, Laurie G. Hudson, Jack A. Roth, Noriaki Tanaka

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16 Citations (Scopus)


When keratinocytes withdraw from the cell cycle, they migrate from the basal to the superficial layers of the epidermis and undergo morphological and biochemical changes during the process of terminal differentiation. These differentiation features of keratinocytes are known to be altered or reduced in esophageal cancer cells. Therefore, we examined the effects of transferring the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21(sdi1) gene into human esophageal cancer cell lines as well as normal keratinocytes using an adenovirus vector system. Ectopic expression of p21(sdi1) protein resulted in cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase and produced morphological changes, such as enlarged nuclei and a flattened cellular shape, changes specific to the differentiated phenotype. The human involucrin protein is a specific product of keratinocyte differentiation, which is selectively expressed in the suprabasal epidermal layers. Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical staining demonstrated that involucrin expression was 3- to 5-fold enhanced by the forced expression of p21(sdi1) in esophageal cancer cells, whereas only a mild up-regulation up to 1.2-fold occurred in normal keratinocytes. We also found that exogenous introduction of the p21(sdi1) gene transcriptionally activated the upstream promoter function of the involucrin gene. These stimulatory effects on involucrin expression were not observed when another cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor gene, p16(INK4a), was transduced. Moreover, p21(sdi1) expression in esophageal cancer cells transduced with p21(sdi1) led to a rapid apoptotic cell death after a transient dormant phase, although keratinocytes transduced with p21(sdi1) survived longer by terminally withdrawing from the cell cycle. These results may have an important implication for understanding the biology of differentiation-dependent apoptosis in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4233-4241
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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