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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Oct; 16(10): 5933–5945.
PMCID: PMC231595

YY1 and NF1 both activate the human p53 promoter by alternatively binding to a composite element, and YY1 and E1A cooperate to amplify p53 promoter activity.


A novel transcription factor binding element in the human p53 gene promoter has been characterized. It lies about 100 bp upstream of the major reported start site for human p53 gene transcription. On the basis of DNase I footprinting studies, electromobility shift assay patterns, sequence specificity of binding, the binding pattern of purified transcription factors, effects of specific antibodies, and methylation interference analysis we have identified the site as a composite element which can bind both YY1 and NF1 in an independent and mutually exclusive manner. The site is conserved in the human, rat, and mouse p53 promoters. The occupancy of the site varies in a tissue-specific manner. It binds principally YY1 in nuclear extracts of rat testis and spleen and NF1 in extracts of liver and prostate. This may facilitate tissue-specific control of p53 gene expression. When HeLa cells were transiently transfected with human p53 promoter-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter constructs, a mutation in this composite element which disabled YY1 and NF1 binding caused a mean 64% reduction in basal p53 promoter activity. From mutations which selectively impaired YY1 or NF1 binding and the overexpression of YY1 or NF1 in HeLa cells we concluded that both YY1 and NF1 function as activators when bound to this site. In transient cotransfections E1A could induce the activity of the p53 promoter to a high level; 12S E1A was threefold as efficient as 13S E1A in this activity, and YY1 bound to the composite element was shown to mediate 55% of this induction. Overexpressed YY1 was shown to be able to synergistically activate the p53 promoter with E1A when not specifically bound to DNA. Deletion of an N-terminal domain of E1A, known to be required for direct E1A-YY1 interaction and E1A effects mediated through transcriptional activator p300, blocked the E1A induction of p53 promoter activity.

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Selected References

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