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Oncogene. 1999 Apr 29;18(17):2728-38.

Expression of human p53 requires synergistic activation of transcription from the p53 promoter by AP-1, NF-kappaB and Myc/Max.

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Institute of Molecular Biology (Cancer Research), University of Essen, Medical School, Germany.


Transcriptional control of p53 expression participates in the generation of appropriate levels of active p53 in response to mitogenic stimulation. This prompted us to study the role of a putative AP-1 and a NF-kappaB motif in the human p53 promoter for transcriptional regulation. We show that mutation of the AP-1 or the NF-kappaB motif abolishes transcription from the human p53 promoter in HeLa, HepG2 and adenovirus type 5 E1-transformed 293 cells. In comparison, mutation of the previously characterized Myc/Max/USF binding site in the human p53 promoter reduces the transcription rate fivefold. The AP-1 motif in the human p53 promoter binds c-Fos and c-Jun and the NF-kappaB motif binds p50(NF-kappaB) and p65RelA. The cooperative nature of transcriptional activation by these factors was documented by repression of c-fos or NF-kappaB1 translation: Pretreatment of the cells with a c-fos or p50(NF-kappaB1) antisense oligonucleotide suppresses transcription from the human p53 promoter completely. In addition, we show that (a) the level of endogenous p53 mRNA and (b) transcription from the strictly p53-dependent human mdm2 promoter are reduced in the presence of c-fos, c-jun, p50(NF-kappaB1), p65RelA or c-myc antisense oligonucleotides, underscoring the importance of these transcription factors for the expression of functional p53.

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