To evaluate the effects of the wild-type p53 expression in normal and tumor cells, we have constructed a recombinant adenovirus vector (E1 minus) expressing human wild-type p53 cDNA (AdWTp53). Infection of normal and tumor cells of lung and mammary epithelial origin with AdWTp53 resulted in high levels of wild-type p53 expression. Production of p53 protein following infection was dependent on the dose of AdWTp53 with maximum amounts of p53 produced following infection with 50 plaque-forming units/cell. AdWTp53 infection inhibited the growth of all human cell lines studied. However, tumor cells that were null for p53 prior to infection (H-358 and MDA-MB-157) and tumor cells that expressed mutant endogenous p53 protein (MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-453) were more sensitive to AdWTp53 cytotoxicity than cells that contained the wild-type p53 (MCF-7, MCF-10, 184B5, and normal mammary epithelial cells). All cells exhibited WAF1/Cip1 mRNA and protein induction following AdWTp53 infection. AdWTp53-induced cytotoxicity of human tumor cell lines expressing mutant p53 was mediated by apoptosis as revealed by nucleosomal DNA fragmentation analysis. No detectable nucleosomal DNA fragmentation was observed following AdWTp53 infection of human cells expressing wild-type p53. These data suggest that endogenous p53 status is a determinant of AdWTp53-mediated cell killing of human tumor cells.

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