The p53R2 gene encodes the ribonucleotide reductase (RR) small subunit 2 homologue, and is induced by several stress signals activating p53, such as DNA-damaging agents. The p53R2 gene product causes an increase in the deoxynucleotide triphosphate (dNTP) pool in the nucleus, which facilitates DNA repair and synthesis. We hypothesized that p53R2 would be a good molecular target for cancer gene therapy. In this study, three human oral cancer cell lines (SAS, HSC-4 and Ca9-22), a human breast cancer cell line MCF-7, and a normal human fibroblast cell line NHDF were tested. We silenced the expression of p53R2 with the highly specific post-transcriptional suppression of RNA interference (RNAi). We investigated p53R2 expression with the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting. The sensitivity to anticancer agents was evaluated by a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl) -2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The expression of p53R2 showed no association with the mutational status of p53. The cancer cell lines with higher p53R2 expression were more resistant to 5-FU. RNAi-mediated p53R2 reduction selectivity inhibited growth and enhanced chemosensitivity in cancer cell lines but not in normal fibroblasts. These results suggest that basal transcription of p53R2 could be associated with the sensitivity to anticancer agents. Moreover, we assessed the possibility that p53R2 would be a good molecular target, and report that RNAi targeting of p53R2 could be useful for oral cancer gene therapy.
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