Mutant p53 and the response to chemotherapy and radiation
In addition to playing roles in the genesis and progression of cancer, mutant p53 also appears to play a significant role in the response to cancer therapy. In response to chemotherapy and radiation, two mainstays of cancer treatment, most cancer cells harboring p53 mutations show a reduced sensitivity compared to cells lacking p53 or those with wild type p53. However, there are also many instances where mutant p53 has shown no effect or enhances cellular sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation. Similar to the in vitro cellular studies, the majority of clinical studies show a correlation between the presence of mutant p53 in patient tumors and adverse outcomes following treatment with chemotherapy agents or radiation in comparison to tumors with wild-type p53. However, it still remains unclear whether the presence of mutant p53 in tumors can serve as a reliable prognostic factor and aid in treatment planning. Thus, as genomic analysis of patient tumors becomes more cost effective, the role of mutant p53 in tumor responses from cancer therapy ultimately needs to be addressed. This chapter will discuss current mechanisms of how p53 mutations affect cellular responses to chemotherapy and radiation and discuss patient outcomes based on p53 status.