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FEBS Lett. 2004 Dec 3;578(1-2):198-202.

Identification of a putative p53 binding sequence within the human mitochondrial genome.

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  • 1Department of Virology, Bldg. 47, University of Saarland Medical School, 66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany.


A small fraction of the total cellular amount of nuclear transcription factor p53 seems to be located at and within mitochondria. Transcription factors of the steroid receptor superfamily that, like p53, lack a classical mitochondrial leader sequence are nonetheless imported into mitochondria where they regulate mtDNA transcription through binding to specific recognition sequences. Here, we examined seven candidate sequences from the human mitochondrial genome with similarity to the consensus p53 binding motif. Two imperfect half-sites at coordinate 1553 with homology to the nuclear IGF-BP3 box A binding sequence are demonstrated to confer responsivity to p53 and the p53 relatives p73alpha and beta in the context of the cell nucleus. Mitochondrial p53 may thus bind directly to mtDNA and, perhaps, be involved in the regulation of mitochondrial transcription/replication.

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