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Plasmid. 2013 May;69(3):223-30. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

CMV promoter is repressed by p53 and activated by JNK pathway.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, Garrett-Strong Science Building 3100, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO 64468, USA.


Viral promoters are widely utilized in commercial and customized vectors to drive expression of genes of interest including reporter, effector and transfection control, because of their high transcription efficiency in a variety of primary and transformed cell lines. However, we observed altered rate of transcription for these promoters under conditions such as presence of an effector protein. These variations in viral promoter driven expressions can potentially lead to incorrect conclusion, especially in comparative and quantitative experiments. We found significantly reduced viral promoter activity in cells overexpressing tumor suppressor protein p53, whereas markedly induced transcription in cells overexpressing MAP/ERK kinase kinase 1 (Mekk 1). Using deletion constructs generated from the CMV promoter, we found the transcription reduction by p53 is possibly mediated through the TATA motif present in proximal CMV promoter. The activation of the CMV promoter by Mekk 1, on the other hand, is attributed to the proximal CRE binding site in the promoter. These findings may be of interest to investigators who use CMV (or other viral) promoter driven vectors for either comparative or quantitative gene expression, or effect on promoter activity.

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