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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Nov 15, 1991; 88(22): 9979–9983.

Wild-type p53 can down-modulate the activity of various promoters.


The wild-type (wt) p53 protein is the product of a tumor suppressor gene that is a frequent target for inactivation in many types of tumors. The nuclear localization of the protein, as well as additional features, suggest that it may be involved in the regulation of gene expression. To explore this possibility, the effects of overproduced wt p53 were investigated in a number of systems. Induction of growth arrest via the antiproliferative effect of wt p53 greatly impaired the ability of cells to exhibit an increase in c-fos mRNA upon serum stimulation. Experiments in which cells were cotransfected with p53 expression plasmids together with a reporter gene linked to various promoters revealed that wt p53 could effectively reduce transcription from a series of promoters derived from serum-inducible genes, but not from a major histocompatibility complex gene. The p53-mediated repression of c-fos gene expression occurred even in the presence of cycloheximide. Kinetic studies indicate that the effect of wt p53 is rapid, rather than representing a secondary consequence of growth arrest. These findings support a role for p53 in transcriptional regulation, perhaps by reducing the expression of genes that are needed for ongoing cell proliferation.

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