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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 6;99(16):10305-9. Epub 2002 Jul 17.

Two sequence motifs from HIF-1alpha bind to the DNA-binding site of p53.

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  • 1Cambridge Centre for Protein Engineering, Medical Research Council Centre, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, United Kingdom.


There is evidence that hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) interacts with the tumor suppressor p53. To characterize the putative interaction, we mapped the binding of the core domain of p53 (p53c) to an array of immobilized HIF-1alpha-derived peptides and found two peptide-sequence motifs that bound to p53c with micromolar affinity in solution. One sequence was adjacent to and the other coincided with the two proline residues of the oxygen-dependent degradation domain (P402 and P564) that act as switches for the oxygen-dependent regulation of HIF-1alpha. The binding affinity was independent of the hydroxylation state of P564. We found from NMR spectroscopy that these sequence motifs bind to the DNA-binding site of p53c. Because the two sequences are homologous and separated by 120 residues, and one is in a largely unstructured transactivation domain, we speculate that each sequence motif in HIF-1alpha binds to a different subunit of the p53 tetramer, leading to very tight binding. The binding data support the proposal that p53 provides a route for the degradation in hypoxic tumor cells of HIF-1alpha that is not hydroxylated at the two proline residues.

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