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EMBO J. 2006 Jun 7;25(11):2615-22. Epub 2006 Jun 1.

Ser18 and 23 phosphorylation is required for p53-dependent apoptosis and tumor suppression.

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Section of Molecular Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0322, USA.


Mouse p53 is phosphorylated at Ser18 and Ser23 after DNA damage. To determine whether these two phosphorylation events have synergistic functions in activating p53 responses, we simultaneously introduced Ser18/23 to Ala mutations into the endogenous p53 locus in mice. While partial defects in apoptosis are observed in p53S18A and p53S23A thymocytes exposed to IR, p53-dependent apoptosis is essentially abolished in p53S18/23A thymocytes, indicating that these two events have critical and synergistic roles in activating p53-dependent apoptosis. In addition, p53S18/23A, but not p53S18A, could completely rescue embryonic lethality of Xrcc4(-/-) mice that is caused by massive p53-dependent neuronal apoptosis. However, certain p53-dependent functions, including G1/S checkpoint and cellular senescence, are partially retained in p53(S18/23A) cells. While p53(S18A) mice are not cancer prone, p53S18/23A mice developed a spectrum of malignancies distinct from p53S23A and p53(-/-) mice. Interestingly, Xrcc4(-/-)p53S18/23A mice fail to develop tumors like the pro-B cell lymphomas uniformly developed in Xrcc4(-/-) p53(-/-) animals, but exhibit developmental defects typical of accelerated ageing. Therefore, Ser18 and Ser23 phosphorylation is important for p53-dependent suppression of tumorigenesis in certain physiological context.

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