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Cancer Res. 1998 Apr 15;58(8):1593-8.

p53-dependent and -independent regulation of the death receptor KILLER/DR5 gene expression in response to genotoxic stress and tumor necrosis factor alpha.

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  • 1Basic Research Laboratory, Division of Basic Sciences, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The death receptor (DR) KILLER/DR5 gene has recently been identified as a doxorubicin-regulated transcript that was also induced by exogenous wild-type p53 in p53-negative cells. KILLER/DR5 gene encodes a DR containing cell surface protein that is highly homologous to DR4, another DR of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor family. Both DR4 and KILLER/DR5 independently bind to their specific ligand TRAIL and engage the caspase cascade to induce apoptosis. TRID (also known as TRAIL-R3) is an antiapoptotic decoy receptor that lacks the cytoplasmic death domain and competes with KILLER/DR5 and DR4 for binding to TRAIL. In this study, we demonstrate that the DR KILLER/DR5 gene is regulated in a p53-dependent and -independent manner during genotoxic and nongenotoxic stress-induced apoptosis. Just like other p53-regulated genes, ionizing radiation induction of KILLER/DR5 occurs in p53 wild-type cells, whereas methyl methanesulfonate regulation of KILLER/DR5 occurs in a p53-dependent and -independent manner. However, unlike other p53-regulated genes, KILLER/DR5 is not regulated following UV irradiation. TNF-alpha, a nongenotoxic cytokine, also induced the expression of KILLER/DR5 in a number of cancer cell lines, irrespective of p53 status. TNF-alpha did not alter the KILLER/DR5 mRNA stability, suggesting that the TNF-alpha regulation of KILLER/DRS expression appears transcriptional. We also provide evidence that KILLER/DR5 is regulated in a trigger and cell type-specific manner and that its induction by TNF-alpha, p53, or DNA damage is not the consequence of apoptosis induced by these agents. Unlike KILLER/DR5, none of the other KILLER/DR5 family members, including DR4, TRID, or the ligand TRAIL, displayed genotoxic stress or TNF-alpha regulation in a p53 transcription-dependent manner. Thus, KILLER/DR5 appears a bona fide downstream target of p53 that is also regulated in a cell type-specific, trigger-dependent, and p53-independent manner.

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