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Oncogene. 2002 Oct 3;21(44):6722-8.

DeltaN-p53, a natural isoform of p53 lacking the first transactivation domain, counteracts growth suppression by wild-type p53.

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Group of Molecular Carcinogenesis, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150 cours Albert Thomas, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France.


The tumor suppressor protein p53 is ubiquitously expressed as a major isoform of 53 kD, but several forms of lower molecular weight have been observed. Here, we describe a new isoform, DeltaN-p53, produced by internal initiation of translation at codon 40 and lacking the N-terminal first transactivation domain. This isoform has impaired transcriptional activation capacity, and does not complex with the p53 regulatory protein Mdm2. Furthermore, DeltaN-p53 oligomerizes with full-length p53 (FL-p53) and negatively regulates its transcriptional and growth-suppressive activities. Consistent with the lack of Mdm2 binding, DeltaN-p53 does not accumulate in response to DNA-damage, suggesting that this isoform is not involved in the response to genotoxic stress. However, in serum-starved cells expressing wild-type p53, DeltaN-p53 becomes the predominant p53 form during the synchronous progression into S phase after serum stimulation. These results suggest that DeltaN-p53 may play a role as a transient, negative regulator of p53 during cell cycle progression.

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