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Biochem Cell Biol. 2003 Jun;81(3):141-50.

The complex interactions of p53 with target DNA: we learn as we go.

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  • 1Heinrich-Pette-Institut für Experimentelle Virologie und Immunologie, Universität Hamburg, Germany.


The most import biological function of the tumor suppressor p53 is that of a sequence-specific transactivator. In response to a variety of cellular stress stimuli, p53 induces the transcription of an ever-increasing number of target genes, leading to growth arrest and repair, or to apoptosis. Long considered as a "latent" DNA binder that requires prior activation by C-terminal modification, recent data provide strong evidence that the DNA binding activity of p53 is strongly dependent on structural features within the target DNA and is latent only if the target DNA lacks a certain structural signal code. In this review we discuss evidence for complex interactions of p53 with DNA, which are strongly dependent on the dynamics of DNA structure, especially in the context of chromatin. We provide a model of how this complexity may serve to achieve selectivity of target gene regulation by p53 and how DNA structure in the context of chromatin may serve to modulate p53 functions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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