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Genes Dev. 1997 Aug 1;11(15):1974-86.

Repression of p53-mediated transcription by MDM2: a dual mechanism.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3204, USA.


The oncoprotein MDM2 binds to the activation domain of the tumor suppressor p53 and inhibits its ability to stimulate transcription. This same region of p53 is able to bind several basal transcription factors that appear to be important for the transactivation function of p53. It has therefore been suggested that MDM2 acts to inhibit p53 by concealing its activation domain from the basal machinery. Here we present data suggesting that MDM2 possesses an additional inhibitory function. Our experiments reveal that in addition to a p53-binding domain, MDM2 also contains an inhibitory domain that can directly repress basal transcription in the absence of p53. By fusing portions of MDM2 to a heterologous DNA-binding domain to allow p53-independent promoter recruitment, we have localized this inhibitory domain to a region encompassing amino acids 50-222 of MDM2. Furthermore, the function of this inhibitory domain does not require the presence of either TFIIA or the TAFs. Of the remaining basal factors, both the small subunit of TFIIE and monomeric TBP are bound by the MDM2 inhibitory domain. It is possible that MDM2 inhibits the ability of the preinitiation complex to synthesize RNA through one of these interactions. Our results are consistent with a model in which MDM2 represses p53-dependent transcription by a dual mechanism: a masking of the activation domain of p53 through a protein-protein interaction that additionally serves to recruit MDM2 to the promoter where it directly interferes with the basal transcription machinery.

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