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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2010;25(6):761-6. doi: 10.1159/000315096. Epub 2010 May 18.

CHOP-dependent regulation of p21/waf1 during ER stress.

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Department of Biochemistry, Medical School, University of Athens, 11527 Athens, Greece.


The transcription factor CHOP/GADD153 is induced during the unfolded protein response (UPR) and is associated to the induction of ER stress-related apoptosis. However, how the transition between the pro-survival and the pro-apoptotic role of ER stress is being orchestrated remains poorly understood. Here we show that tunicamycin, an antibiotic promoting ER stress, suppresses the expression of p21, a tumor suppressor that induces cell cycle arrest and inhibits apoptosis. This suppression of p21 levels was independent of p53 that is the major transcriptional regulator of p21, but could be reproduced by forced expression of CHOP. Consistently with these findings, siRNA-mediated inhibition of p21 levels restored the sensitivity of CHOP-deficient cells to tunicamycin. Our findings are consistent with a CHOP-dependent role for p21 in the shift from the pro-survival to the pro-apoptotic function of UPR.

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