We investigated the effects of transfection of wild-type TP53 on the growth properties of a human gingival carcinoma cell line, KOSC-3, in which the TP53 gene is mutated at codon 248 and overexpressed. The wild-type TP53 expression plasmid, pCDM8-p53/neo and the control plasmid, pCDM8/neo, were each stably transfected into KOSC-3 cells by using the calcium phosphate method. The number of G418-resistant colonies from wild-type TP53-transfected cells was approximately half that from plasmid controls. Exogenous wild-type TP53 transcripts were identified in four of the 20 G418-resistant clones analysed by reverse transcription PCR. Although the growth rates of the wild-type TP53+ clones did not drastically change during log phase, their saturation density was significantly reduced. The wild-type TP53+ cells were morphologically flat and enlarged when cultured in vitro, and were less able to form colonies in soft agar. In nude mice, the wild-type TP53+ clones formed subcutaneous tumours with conspicuous keratinisation and notable cell death that was not manifested in the parental and plasmid control cells. These findings indicate that the wild-type TP53 gene, even when it coexists with a mutated form, may function as a growth suppressor and differentiation inducer under restricted conditions in gingival squamous cell carcinoma.
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