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Cell Death Differ. 2009 May;16(5):738-48. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2009.5. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

A nucleocytoplasmic malate dehydrogenase regulates p53 transcriptional activity in response to metabolic stress.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Research Laboratory for Metabolic Checkpoint, Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Metabolic enzymes have been shown to function as transcriptional regulators. p53, a tumor-suppressive transcription factor, was recently found to regulate energy metabolism. These combined facts raise the possibility that metabolic enzymes may directly regulate p53 function. Here, we discover that nucleocytoplasmic malate dehydrogenase-1 (MDH1) physically associates with p53. Upon glucose deprivation, MDH1 stabilizes and transactivates p53 by binding to p53-responsive elements in the promoter of downstream genes. Knockdown of MDH1 significantly reduces binding of acetylated-p53 and transcription-active histone codes to the promoter upon glucose depletion. MDH1 regulates p53-dependent cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in response to glucose deprivation, suggesting that MDH1 functions as a transcriptional regulator for a p53-dependent metabolic checkpoint. Our findings provide insight into how metabolism is directly linked to gene expression for controlling cellular events in response to metabolic stress.

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