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EMBO Rep. 2001 Nov;2(11):1029-34. Epub 2001 Oct 17.

Mdmx stabilizes p53 and Mdm2 via two distinct mechanisms.

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Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Centre for Biomedical Genetics, PO Box 9503, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.


The p53 protein maintains genomic integrity through its ability to induce cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in response to various forms of stress. Substantial regulation of p53 activity occurs at the level of protein stability, largely determined by the activity of the Mdm2 protein. Mdm2 targets both p53 and itself for ubiquitylation and subsequent proteasomal degradation by acting as an ubiquitin ligase, a function that needs an intact Mdm2 RING finger. For efficient degradation of p53 nuclear export appears to be required. The Mdmx protein, structurally homologous to Mdm2, does not target p53 for degradation, but even stabilizes both p53 and Mdm2, an activity most likely mediated by heterodimerization of the RING fingers of Mdm2 and Mdmx. Here we show that Mdmx expression leads to accumulation of ubiquitylated, nuclear p53 but does not significantly affect the Mdm2-mediated ubiquitylation of p53. In contrast, Mdmx stabilizes Mdm2 by inhibiting its self-ubiquitylation.

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