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Hepatology. 2010 Sep;52(3):1023-32. doi: 10.1002/hep.23746.

Direct activation of forkhead box O3 by tumor suppressors p53 and p73 is disrupted during liver regeneration in mice.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Genes and Development, University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX, USA.


The p53 family of proteins regulates the expression of target genes that promote cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, which may be linked to cellular growth control as well as tumor suppression. Within the p53 family, p53 and the transactivating p73 isoform (TA-p73) have hepatic-specific functions in development and tumor suppression. Here, we determined TA-p73 interactions with chromatin in the adult mouse liver and found forkhead box O3 (Foxo3) to be one of 158 gene targets. Global profiling of hepatic gene expression in the regenerating liver versus the quiescent liver revealed specific, functional categories of genes regulated over the time of regeneration. Foxo3 is the most responsive gene among transcription factors with altered expression during regenerative cellular proliferation. p53 and TA-p73 bind a Foxo3 p53 response element (p53RE) and maintain active expression in the quiescent liver. During regeneration of the liver, the binding of p53 and TA-p73, the recruitment of acetyltransferase p300, and the active chromatin structure of Foxo3 are disrupted along with a loss of Foxo3 expression. In agreement with the loss of Foxo3 transcriptional activation, a decrease in histone activation marks (dimethylated histone H3 at lysine 4, acetylated histone H3 at lysine 14, and acetylated H4) at the Foxo3 p53RE was detected after partial hepatectomy in mice. These parameters of Foxo3 regulation are reestablished with the completion of liver growth and regeneration and support a temporary suspension of p53 and TA-p73 regulatory functions in normal cells during tissue regeneration. p53-dependent and TA-p73-dependent activation of Foxo3 was also observed in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and in mouse hepatoma cells overexpressing p53, TA-p73alpha, and TA-p73beta isoforms.


p53 and p73 directly bind and activate the expression of the Foxo3 gene in the adult mouse liver and murine cell lines. p53, TA-p73, and p300 binding and Foxo3 expression decrease during liver regeneration, and this suggests a critical growth control mechanism mediated by these transcription factors in vivo.

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