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Virology. 1995 Jul 10;210(2):323-34.

The high levels of p53 present in adenovirus early region 1-transformed human cells do not cause up-regulation of MDM2 expression.

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CRC Institute for Cancer Studies, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, United Kingdom.


The cellular protein MDM2 can bind to the tumor suppressor gene product p53 and abrogate its transcriptional activity. In addition, p53 can regulate expression of the mdm2 gene. We and others have previously shown that p53 is present at high levels in adenovirus-transformed cells which express the larger E1B protein. In view of these observations the expression of MDM2 in a panel of adenovirus transformed human cell lines has been examined. Two major species (98K and 80K) were detected, together with a number of minor species of higher and lower molecular weight. While there was little variation in levels of 98K protein between cell lines, appreciable differences in the expression of the 80K component were apparent. There was no correlation between MDM2 and p53 expression in any of the adenovirus transformants, nor with the viral proteins expressed. The pattern and level of MDM2 detected was similar to that seen in human tumor cell lines and in human fetal tissue. Northern blot analysis suggested that MDM2 expression was regulated at the transcriptional level. Stable interactions were observed between p53 and MDM2 in the adenovirus-transformed cell lines and in Ad5 E1 HEK 293 cells a ternary complex of p53, MDM2, and the Ad5 E1B 58K protein was demonstrated. In view of the lack of correlation between the level of p53 and MDM2 in adenovirus E1-transformed cells, the capacity of p53 to cause transcriptional activation was assessed using transfected CAT constructs linked to p53 responsive elements. p53 transcriptional activity was similar in all of the cell lines examined and did not correlate with protein expression. It is concluded, on the basis of all of these data, that the high concentrations of p53 found in adenovirus transformants are not transcriptionally active and have no influence on MDM2 expression. However, when expression of p53 was increased following infection with mutant adenoviruses, which do not express the larger E1B proteins, there was an appreciable increase in p53 transcriptional activity and in the levels of all of the MDM2 components.

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