Open Access Research article

RITA (Reactivating p53 and Inducing Tumor Apoptosis) is efficient against TP53abnormal myeloma cells independently of the p53 pathway

Sylvanie Surget123, Géraldine Descamps123, Carole Brosseau123, Vincent Normant123, Sophie Maïga123, Patricia Gomez-Bougie1234, Nadège Gouy-Colin5, Catherine Godon5, Marie C Béné25, Philippe Moreau1234, Steven Le Gouill1234, Martine Amiot1234 and Catherine Pellat-Deceunynck1234*

Author Affiliations

1 CRCNA, INSERM, UMR 892, Nantes F-44000, France

2 Université de Nantes, Nantes F-44000, France

3 CNRS, UMR 6299, Nantes F-44000, France

4 Service d'Hématologie, CHU Nantes, Nantes F-44000, France

5 Laboratoire d'Hématologie, CHU Nantes, Nantes F-44000, France

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:437  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-437

Published: 14 June 2014



The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the p53-reactivating drugs RITA and nutlin3a in killing myeloma cells.


A large cohort of myeloma cell lines (n = 32) and primary cells (n = 21) was used for this study. This cohort contained cell lines with various TP53 statuses and primary cells with various incidences of deletion of chromosome 17. Apoptosis was evaluated using flow cytometry with Apo2.7 staining of the cell lines or via the loss of the myeloma-specific marker CD138 in primary cells. Apoptosis was further confirmed by the appearance of a subG1 peak and the activation of caspases 3 and 9. Activation of the p53 pathway was monitored using immunoblotting via the expression of the p53 target genes p21, Noxa, Bax and DR5. The involvement of p53 was further studied in 4 different p53-silenced cell lines.


Both drugs induced the apoptosis of myeloma cells. The apoptosis that was induced by RITA was not related to the TP53 status of the cell lines or the del17p status of the primary samples (p = 0.52 and p = 0.80, respectively), and RITA did not commonly increase the expression level of p53 or p53 targets (Noxa, p21, Bax or DR5) in sensitive cells. Moreover, silencing of p53 in two TP53mutated cell lines failed to inhibit apoptosis that was induced by RITA, which confirmed that RITA-induced apoptosis in myeloma cells was p53 independent. In contrast, apoptosis induced by nutlin3a was directly linked to the TP53 status of the cell lines and primary samples (p < 0.001 and p = 0.034, respectively) and nutlin3a increased the level of p53 and p53 targets in a p53-dependent manner. Finally, we showed that a nutlin3a-induced DR5 increase (≥1.2-fold increase) was a specific and sensitive marker (p < 0.001) for a weak incidence of 17p deletion within the samples (≤19%).


These data show that RITA, in contrast to nutlin3a, effectively induced apoptosis in a subset of MM cells independently of p53. The findings and could be of interest for patients with a 17p deletion, who are resistant to current therapies.

Myeloma; p53; RITA; Nutlin3a