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Cell Death Differ. 2010 Mar;17(3):513-21. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2009.140. Epub 2009 Oct 2.

An ARF/CtBP2 complex regulates BH3-only gene expression and p53-independent apoptosis.

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Department of Cancer Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 364 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


The alternative reading frame (ARF) tumor suppressor exerts both p53-dependent and p53-independent functions. The corepressor C-terminal binding protein (CtBP) interacts with ARF, resulting in proteasome-mediated degradation of CtBP. ARF can induce apoptosis in p53-null colon cancer cells, in a manner dependent on ARF interaction with CtBP. Bik was uniquely identified in an apoptotic gene array as coordinately upregulated in colon cancer cells after either CtBP2 knockdown or ARF overexpression. Validating the array findings, ARF induced Bik mRNA and protein expression, and this activity required an intact CtBP binding domain. Apoptosis induced by CtBP deficiency was substantially impaired when Bik expression was simultaneously silenced. An analysis of the Bik promoter revealed binding sites for the CtBP-interacting basic Kruppel-like factor (BKLF). A Bik promoter luciferase reporter was repressed by BKLF and CtBP2, and ARF reversed CtBP-associated repression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses showed that CtBP was recruited to the Bik promoter largely by BKLF. Expression profiling of BH3-only gene expression in ARF-expressing or CtBP-deficient cells revealed that Bik was uniquely regulated by ARF/CtBP in colon cancer cells, whereas additional BH3-only proteins (Bim, Bmf) showed CtBP-dependent repression in osteosarcoma cells. ARF antagonism of CtBP repression of Bik and other BH3-only genes may have a critical role in ARF-induced p53-independent apoptosis and tumor suppression.

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