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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Dec;1010:266-72.

How the nucleolar sequestration of p53 protein or its interplayers contributes to its (re)-activation.

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Cell Cycle Regulation Group, Institute of Cancer Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


The tumor suppressor p53 is a short-lived protein that under normal conditions is reduced to a barely detectable level. The stability of p53 protein is primarily regulated in normal non-transformed cells by two interplayers: Mdm2 and p14(ARF). Relocation of p53, Mdm2, and p14(ARF) to the nucleolus seems to regulate, at least partially, the steady-state of p53. Moreover, there are alternative pathways of the regulation of p53 stability in unstressed cells. Jun-N(amino)-terminal kinase (JNK) and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) are involved in the regulation of the steady-state of wild-type (wt) p53 protein. However, in most human cervical carcinomas, which express the high-risk human papilloma viruses (HPVs) E6 protein, a complete switch from Mdm2 to HPV E6-mediated degradation of p53 occurs. Virally encoded E6 protein utilizes the cellular ubiquitin-protein ligase termed E6-associated protein (E6-AP) to target p53 protein for proteolytic degradation. We recently addressed the question of whether p53 protein can be generally reactivated by chemotherapy in HeLa cells despite the E6 activity. We observed an increase of cellular p53 after cisplatin (CP) treatment. p53 protein accumulated preferentially in the nucleoli. We checked the cellular level of E6 during CP therapy. Six hours after application of CP the expression of E6 protein was markedly reduced. This coincided with the increase of cellular p53 level and preceded the nucleolar accumulation of p53 protein, thereby indicating that repression of virally coded E6 protein by CP contributes to the restoration of p53 expression.

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