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Oncogene. 1999 Mar 18;18(11):1921-34.

p53 mediated death of cells overexpressing MDM2 by an inhibitor of MDM2 interaction with p53.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS/INSERM/ULP, Illkirch, France.


The p53 tumour suppressor is frequently inactivated in human tumours. One form of inactivation results from overexpression of MDM2, that normally forms a negative auto-regulatory loop with p53 and inhibits its activity through complex formation. We have investigated whether disrupting the MDM2-p53 complex in cells that overexpress MDM2 is sufficient to trigger p53 mediated cell death. We find that expression of a peptide homologue of p53 that binds to MDM2 leads to increased p53 levels and transcriptional activity. The consequences are increased expression of the downstream effectors MDM2 and p21WAF1/CIP1, inhibition of colony formation, cell cycle arrest and cell death. There is also a decrease in E2F activity, that might have been due to the known physical and functional interactions of MDM2 with E2F1/DP1. However, this decrease is p53 dependent, as are also colony formation, cell cycle arrest and cell death. These results show that a peptide homologue of p53 is sufficient to induce p53 dependent cell death in cells overexpressing MDM2, and support the notion that disruption of the p53-MDM2 complex is a target for the development of therapeutic agents.

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