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Oncogene. 1995 Jan 5;10(1):27-32.

Modulation by copper of p53 conformation and sequence-specific DNA binding: role for Cu(II)/Cu(I) redox mechanism.

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Department of Biology, University of York, Heslington, UK.


The tumor suppressor protein p53 is a metal-binding transcription factor whose conformation and function are altered by mutation in cancers. Using murine p53 translated in vitro, we report here that concentrations of copper within the physiological range (< 30 microM) alter the conformation of wild-type p53 and inhibit sequence-specific DNA-binding. Direct binding of copper to p53 in the form of Cu(I) was demonstrated by Electron Spin Resonance using a purified recombinant protein containing residues 1-343 of murine wild-type p53 fused to E. coli maltose binding protein. Moreover, protection against the effect of Cu(II) sulfate was achieved by the Cu(I)-specific chelator bathocuproinedisulfonic acid but not by scavengers of reactive oxygen species, suggesting that alteration of p53 by copper depends upon a Cu(II)/Cu(I) redox mechanism, but does not require the production of reactive oxygen species. Thus copper at physiological concentrations can interact with wild-type p53 and affect its DNA-binding capacity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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