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Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Jan;37(1):78-95. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkn910. Epub 2008 Nov 16.

Regulation of human dUTPase gene expression and p53-mediated transcriptional repression in response to oxaliplatin-induced DNA damage.

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Department of Pathology, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Deoxyuridine triphosphate nucleotidohydrolase (dUTPase) catalyzes the hydrolysis of dUTP to dUMP and PPi. Although dUTP is a normal intermediate in DNA synthesis, its accumulation and misincorporation into DNA is lethal. Importantly, uracil misincorporation is a mechanism of cytotoxicity induced by fluoropyrimidine chemotherapeutic agents including 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and elevated expression of dUTPase is negatively correlated with clinical response to 5-FU-therapy. In this study we performed the first functional characterization of the dUTPase promoter and demonstrate a role for E2F-1 and Sp1 in driving dUTPase expression. We establish a direct role for both mutant and wild-type forms of p53 in modulating dUTPase promoter activity. Treatment of HCT116 p53(+/+) cells with the DNA-damaging agent oxaliplatin induced a p53-dependent transcriptional downregulation of dUTPase not observed in the isogenic null cell line. Oxaliplatin treatment induced enrichment of p53 at the dUTPase promoter with a concomitant reduction in Sp1. The suppression of dUTPase by oxaliplatin promoted increased levels of dUTP that was enhanced by subsequent addition of fluoropyrimidines. The novel observation that oxaliplatin downregulates dUTPase expression may provide a mechanistic basis contributing to the synergy observed between 5-FU and oxaliplatin in the clinic. Furthermore, these studies provide the first evidence of a direct transcriptional link between the essential enzyme dUTPase and the tumor suppressor p53.

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