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J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 19;278(38):36435-44. Epub 2003 Jun 4.

Identification and characterization of the cytoplasmic protein TRAF4 as a p53-regulated proapoptotic gene.

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Laboratory of Molecular Oncology and Cell Cycle Regulation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The role of p53 in tumor suppression partly relies on its ability to transcriptionally regulate target genes involved in the initiation of cell cycle arrest or the activation of programmed cell death. In recent years many genes have been identified as p53-regulated genes; however, no single target gene has been shown to be required for the full apoptotic effect. We have identified TRAF4 as a p53-regulated gene in a microarray screen using a Murine 11K Affymetrix GeneChip hybridized with cRNA from the p53 temperature-sensitive cell line, Vm10. TRAF4 is a member the TRAF family of adaptor proteins that mediate cellular signaling by binding to various members of the tumor necrosis family receptor superfamily and interleukin-1/Toll-like receptor super-family. In contrast to its other family members, TRAF4 has not been shown to bind to a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily in vivo, nor has it been shown to regulate signaling pathways common to its other family members. Therefore the role of TRAF4 in a signaling pathway has not yet been established and requires further study. TRAF4 is specifically regulated by p53 in response to temperature sensitive p53, overexpression of p53 by use of an adenovirus, and stabilization of p53 in response to DNA damage. The murine TRAF4 promoter contains a functional p53 DNA-binding site approximately 1 kilobase upstream of the initiating methionine. TRAF4 localizes to the cytoplasm and appears to remain in the cytoplasm following DNA damage. Interestingly, the overexpression of TRAF4 induces apoptosis and suppresses colony formation. These data suggest a correlation that the orphan adaptor protein TRAF4 may play a role in p53-mediated proapoptotic signaling in the response to cellular stress.

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