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Genes Dev. 1994 Dec 1;8(23):2817-30.

Myc-mediated apoptosis requires wild-type p53 in a manner independent of cell cycle arrest and the ability of p53 to induce p21waf1/cip1.

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Ben May Institute, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.


Deregulated expression of the c-myc proto-oncogene can lead to apoptosis under certain physiological conditions. By introducing a conditionally active Myc allele into primary embryo fibroblasts null for p53, and into fibroblasts without endogenous p53 expression but ectopically expressing a temperature-sensitive p53 allele, we show that expression of wild-type p53 is required for susceptibility to Myc-mediated apoptosis. Although ectopic expression of wild-type p53 blocked cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle, G1 arrest by isoleucine starvation, in a manner independent of p53, did not confer susceptibility to apoptosis. Thus, growth arrest per se is not sufficient to induce Myc-mediated apoptosis; instead, a property intrinsic to p53 is specifically required. Moreover, apoptosis did not require induction of p53 target proteins, including the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21waf1/cip1. Therefore, the role of p53 in apoptosis may be distinct from its role in cell cycle arrest.

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