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Nucleic Acids Res. 2006;34(22):6640-52. Epub 2006 Dec 1.

Brn-3b enhances the pro-apoptotic effects of p53 but not its induction of cell cycle arrest by cooperating in trans-activation of bax expression.

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Medical Molecular Biology Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK.


The Brn-3a and Brn-3b transcription factor have opposite and antagonistic effects in neuroblastoma cells since Brn-3a is associated with differentiation whilst Brn-3b enhances proliferation in these cells. In this study, we demonstrate that like Brn-3a, Brn-3b physically interacts with p53. However, whereas Brn-3a repressed p53 mediated Bax expression but cooperated with p53 to increase p21cip1/waf1, this study demonstrated that co-expression of Brn-3b with p53 increases trans-activation of Bax promoter but not p21cip1/waf1. Consequently co-expression of Brn-3b with p53 resulted in enhanced apoptosis, which is in contrast to the increased survival and differentiation, when Brn-3a is co-expressed with p53. For Brn-3b to cooperate with p53 on the Bax promoter, it requires binding sites that flank p53 sites on this promoter. Furthermore, neurons from Brn-3b knock-out (KO) mice were resistant to apoptosis and this correlated with reduced Bax expression upon induction of p53 in neurons lacking Brn-3b compared with controls. Thus, the ability of Brn-3b to interact with p53 and modulate Bax expression may demonstrate an important mechanism that helps to determine the fate of cells when p53 is induced.

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