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Cancer Biol Ther. 2007 Dec;6(12):1986-90. Epub 2007 Sep 8.

TRAF4 is potently induced by TAp63 isoforms and localised according to differentiation in SCCHN.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biosciences/Pathology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


p63, a member of the p53 family, is overexpressed in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and some other tumors of epithelial origin. As a transcription factor, p63 can bind to p53-type response elements and there is some overlap between p53 family transcriptional targets. Tumor necrosis factor receptor associated factor 4 (TRAF4) is a p53 regulated gene which is overexpressed in many human carcinomas. We investigated the involvement of p63 in regulation of TRAF4 and the expression of the TRAF4 protein in SCCHN. Disrupting endogenous p63 expression resulted in downregulation of TRAF4 mRNA and protein in an SCCHN cell line. Endogenous p63 bound to the TRAF4 promoter in vivo and reporter assays showed that p63, p73 and p53 can all transactivate TRAF4, with TAp63 isoforms being the most potent activators. The level of TRAF4 activation by TAp63 was two-fold higher than by p53, and TRAF4 was ten-fold more responsive to TAp63 than another p63-target, IGFBP3. Nuclear expression of TRAF4 was seen in normal oral epithelium and highly/moderately differentiated SCCHN, whereas cytoplasmic expression of TRAF4 was seen in poorly differentiated SCCHN. These results indicate that TRAF4 is a common target of p53 family members and that localization of TRAF4 is associated with differentiation of SCCHN cells.

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