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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 31;96(18):10355-60.

The interaction between p53 and DNA topoisomerase I is regulated differently in cells with wild-type and mutant p53.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biology and Pharmacology of DNA Topoisomerases, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8532, Institut Gustave-Roussy, PR2, Villejuif 94805 Cedex, France.


DNA topoisomerase I is a nuclear enzyme involved in transcription, recombination, and DNA damage recognition. Previous studies have shown that topoisomerase I interacts directly with the tumor-suppressor protein p53. p53 is a transcription factor that activates certain genes through binding to specific DNA sequences. We now report that topoisomerase I can be stimulated by both latent and activated wild-type p53 as well as by several mutant and truncated p53 proteins in vitro, indicating that sequence-specific DNA-binding and stimulation of topoisomerase I are distinct properties of p53. These assays also suggest that the binding site for topoisomerase I on p53 is between amino acids 302 and 321. In living cells, the interaction between p53 and topoisomerase I is strongly dependent on p53 status. In MCF-7 cells, which have wild-type p53, the association between the two proteins is tightly regulated in a spatial and temporal manner and takes place only during brief periods of genotoxic stress. In marked contrast, the two proteins are constitutively associated in HT-29 cells, which have mutant p53. These findings have important implications for both cellular stress response and genomic stability, given the ability of topoisomerase I to recognize DNA lesions as well as to cause illegitimate recombination.

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