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Cell. 1995 Jun 30;81(7):1021-9.

Activation of p53 sequence-specific DNA binding by short single strands of DNA requires the p53 C-terminus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


Upon cellular DNA damage, the p53 tumor suppressor protein transmits a signal to genes that control the cell cycle and apoptosis. One function of p53 that is important for its role in this pathway is its ability to function as a sequence-specific transcriptional activator. We demonstrate here that short single DNA strands can markedly stimulate the ability of human and murine p53 proteins to bind specifically to a p53 response element in supercoiled DNA. We also show that single-stranded DNA does not stimulate binding by a truncated p53 that lacks the C-terminal domain. Finally, we establish that a peptide spanning the p53 C-terminus has the ability in trans to stimulate sequence-specific DNA binding by p53 dramatically. These data taken together suggest a model in which the p53 C-terminus can recognize DNA structures resulting from damage-induced lesions, and this interaction can be propagated to regulate positively p53 sequence-specific DNA binding.

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