Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 6007–6016 | Cite as

Aspirin acetylates wild type and mutant p53 in colon cancer cells: identification of aspirin acetylated sites on recombinant p53

  • Guoqiang Ai
  • Rakesh Dachineni
  • D. Ramesh Kumar
  • Srinivasan Marimuthu
  • Lloyd F. Alfonso
  • G. Jayarama Bhat
Original Article


Aspirin’s ability to inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines is considered to be an important mechanism for its anti-cancer effects. We previously demonstrated that aspirin acetylated the tumor suppressor protein p53 at lysine 382 in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells. Here, we extended these observations to human colon cancer cells, HCT 116 harboring wild type p53, and HT-29 containing mutant p53. We demonstrate that aspirin induced acetylation of p53 in both cell lines in a concentration-dependent manner. Aspirin-acetylated p53 was localized to the nucleus. In both cell lines, aspirin induced p21CIP1. Aspirin also acetylated recombinant p53 (rp53) in vitro suggesting that it occurs through a non-enzymatic chemical reaction. Mass spectrometry analysis and immunoblotting identified 10 acetylated lysines on rp53, and molecular modeling showed that all lysines targeted by aspirin are surface exposed. Five of these lysines are localized to the DNA-binding domain, four to the nuclear localization signal domain, and one to the C-terminal regulatory domain. Our results suggest that aspirin’s anti-cancer effect may involve acetylation and activation of wild type and mutant p53 and induction of target gene expression. This is the first report attempting to characterize p53 acetylation sites targeted by aspirin.


Aspirin Acetylation p53 Apoptosis Anti-cancer effects 



Supports from the Translational Cancer Research Seed Grant, funded as 2010 Research Initiative Center by the State of South Dakota, Faculty Excellence Fund from South Dakota State University, and from NIH (5RO3CA133061-02) to GJB are gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Raghavender Chivukula, Texas Tech University Health Science Center for helpful discussions and Dr. Fred Hagen, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, for carrying out MS analysis. Support to D. Ramesh Kumar to conduct molecular docking studies from the Department of Aquatic animal health division, CIBA, Chennai, India, is also gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interests


Supplementary material

13277_2015_4438_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (524 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 523 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guoqiang Ai
    • 1
  • Rakesh Dachineni
    • 1
  • D. Ramesh Kumar
    • 1
  • Srinivasan Marimuthu
    • 3
  • Lloyd F. Alfonso
    • 2
  • G. Jayarama Bhat
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Avera Health and Sciences CenterSouth Dakota State UniversityBrookingsUSA
  2. 2.School of PharmacyD’Youville CollegeBuffaloUSA
  3. 3.Ayurveda Research Institute for Mother & Child Health CareTrivandrumIndia

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