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Mol Cell. 2005 Jul 1;19(1):77-87.

Genetic inactivation of the transcription factor TIF-IA leads to nucleolar disruption, cell cycle arrest, and p53-mediated apoptosis.

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Division of Molecular Biology of the Cell II, German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Growth-dependent regulation of rRNA synthesis is mediated by TIF-IA, a basal transcription initiation factor for RNA polymerase I. We inactivated the murine TIF-IA gene by homologous recombination in mice and embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). TIF-IA-/- embryos die before or at embryonic day 9.5 (E9.5), displaying retardation of growth and development. In MEFs, Cre-mediated depletion of TIF-IA leads to disruption of nucleoli, cell cycle arrest, upregulation of p53, and induction of apoptosis. Elevated levels of p53 after TIF-IA depletion are due to increased binding of ribosomal proteins, such as L11, to MDM2 and decreased interaction of MDM2 with p53 and p19(ARF). RNAi-induced loss of p53 overcomes proliferation arrest and apoptosis in response to TIF-IA ablation. The striking correlation between perturbation of nucleolar function, elevated levels of p53, and induction of cell suicide supports the view that the nucleolus is a stress sensor that regulates p53 activity.

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