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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jun 16;275(24):18391-8.

The gut-enriched Kruppel-like factor (Kruppel-like factor 4) mediates the transactivating effect of p53 on the p21WAF1/Cip1 promoter.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Biological Chemistry, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


An important mechanism by which the tumor suppressor p53 maintains genomic stability is to induce cell cycle arrest through activation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21(WAF1/Cip1) gene. We show that the gene encoding the gut-enriched Krüppel-like factor (GKLF, KLF4) is concurrently induced with p21(WAF1/Cip1) during serum deprivation and DNA damage elicited by methyl methanesulfonate. The increases in expression of both Gklf and p21(WAF1/Cip1) due to DNA damage are dependent on p53. Moreover, during the first 30 min of methyl methanesulfonate treatment, the rise in Gklf mRNA level precedes that in p21(WAF1/Cip1), suggesting that GKLF may be involved in the induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1). Indeed, GKLF activates p21(WAF1/Cip1) through a specific Sp1-like cis-element in the p21(WAF1/Cip1) proximal promoter. The same element is also required by p53 to activate the p21(WAF1/Cip1) promoter, although p53 does not bind to it. Potential mechanisms by which p53 activates the p21(WAF1/Cip1) promoter include a physical interaction between p53 and GKLF and the transcriptional induction of Gklf by p53. Consequently, the two transactivators cause a synergistic induction of the p21(WAF1/Cip1) promoter activity. The physiological relevance of GKLF in mediating p53-dependent induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1) is demonstrated by the ability of antisense Gklf oligonucleotides to block the production of p21(WAF1/Cip1) in response to p53 activation. These findings suggest that GKLF is an essential mediator of p53 in the transcriptional induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1) and may be part of a novel pathway by which cellular responses to stress are modulated.

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