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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Proteomic identification of heat shock protein 90 as a candidate target for p53 mutation reactivation by PRIMA-1 in breast cancer cells

Abdur Rehman1, Manpreet S Chahal2, Xiaoting Tang3, James E Bruce3, Yves Pommier4 and Sayed S Daoud12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

2 Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

3 Department of Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

4 Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2005, 7:R765-R774  doi:10.1186/bcr1290

Published: 27 July 2005



A loss of p53 function resulting from mutation is prevalent in human cancers. Thus, restoration of p53 function to mutant p53 using small compounds has been extensively studied for cancer therapy. We previously reported that PRIMA-1 (for 'p53 reactivation and induction of massive apoptosis') restored the transcriptional activity of p53 target genes in breast cancer cells with a p53 mutation. By using functional proteomics approach, we sought to identify molecular targets that are involved in the restoration of normal function to mutant p53.


PRIMA-1 treated cell lysates were subjected to immunoprecipitation with DO-1 primary antibody against p53 protein, and proteins bound to p53 were separated on a denaturing gel. Bands expressed differentially between control and PRIMA-1-treated cells were then identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight spectrometry. Protein expression in whole cell lysates and nuclear extracts were confirmed by Western blotting. The effect of combined treatment of PRIMA-1 and adriamycin in breast cancer cells was determined with a cytotoxicity assay in vitro.


PRIMA-1 treated cells distinctly expressed a protein band of 90 kDa that was identified as heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) by the analysis of the 90 kDa band tryptic digest. Immunoblotting with isoform-specific antibodies against Hsp90 identified this band as the α isoform of Hsp90 (Hsp90α). Co-immunoprecipitation with anti-Hsp90α antibody followed by immunoblotting with DO-1 confirmed that p53 and Hsp90α were interacting proteins. PRIMA-1 treatment also resulted in the translocation of Hsp90α to the nucleus by 8 hours. Treatment of cells with PRIMA-1 alone or in combination with adriamycin, a DNA-targeted agent, resulted in increased sensitivity of tumor cells.


The studies demonstrate that PRIMA-1 restores the p53-Hsp90α interaction, enhances the translocation of the p53-Hsp90α complex and reactivates p53 transcriptional activity. Our preliminary evidence also suggests that PRIMA-1 could be considered in combination therapy with DNA-targeted agents for the treatment of breast cancer, especially for tumors with aberrant p53 function.