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J Biol Chem. 1999 Apr 23;274(17):12061-6.

Transcriptional activation of the human glutathione peroxidase promoter by p53.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research, Division of Warner-Lambert Company, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA.


Glutathione peroxidase (GPX) is a primary antioxidant enzyme that scavenges hydrogen peroxide or organic hydroperoxides. We have recently found that GPX is induced by etoposide, a topoisomerase II inhibitor and a p53 activator. In a search for a cis-element that confers potential p53 regulation of GPX, we identified a p53 binding site in the promoter of the GPX gene. This site bound to purified p53 as well as p53 in nuclear extract activated by etoposide. A luciferase reporter driven by a 262-base pair GPX promoter fragment was transcriptionally activated by wild type p53 in a p53 binding site-dependent manner. The same reporter was also activated in a p53 binding site-independent manner by several p53 mutants. The p53 binding and transactivation of the GPX promoter were enhanced by etoposide in p53-positive U2-OS cells. Etoposide-induced transactivation was blocked by a dominant negative p53 mutant, indicating that endogenous wild type p53, upon activation by etoposide, transactivated the GPX promoter. Furthermore, expression of endogenous GPX was induced significantly at both mRNA and enzyme activity levels by etoposide in U2-OS cells but not in p53-negative Saos-2 cells. This is the first report demonstrating that GPX is a novel p53 target gene. The finding links the p53 tumor suppressor to an antioxidant enzyme and will facilitate study of the p53 signaling pathway and antioxidant enzyme regulation.

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