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Oncogene. 1996 Feb 1;12(3):595-607.

Characterization of p21Cip1/Waf1 peptide domains required for cyclin E/Cdk2 and PCNA interaction.

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Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21Cip1/Waf1 is responsible for the p53-dependent growth arrest of cells in G1 phase following DNA damage. In the present study we investigated regions of p21 involved in inhibition of the G1/S phase cyclin-dependent kinase, cyclin E/Cdk2, as well as regions of p21 important for binding to this kinase and recombinant PCNA. To perform these studies we synthesized a series of overlapping peptides spanning the entire p21 sequence and used them in in vitro assays with cyclin E/Cdk2-immune complexes and with recombinant p21 and PCNA proteins. One amino-terminal p21 peptide spanning amino acids 15-40, antagonized p21 binding and inhibition of cyclin E/Cdk2 kinase. Antagonism of p21 binding was, however, lost in a similar peptide lacking amino acids 15-20, or in a peptide in which cysteine-18 was substituted for a serine. These results suggest that this peptide region is important for p21 interaction with cyclin E/Cdk2. A second peptide (amino acids 58-77) also antagonized p21-activity, but this peptide did not affect the ability of p21 to interact with cyclin E/Cdk2. A region of p21 larger than 26 amino acids is presumably required for Cdk-inhibition because none of the peptides we tested inhibited cyclin E/Cdk2. We also found that a peptide spanning amino acids 21-45 bound recombinant p21 in ELISA assays, and additional studies revealed a requirement for amino acids 26 through 45 for this interaction. A p21 peptide spanning amino acids 139-164 was found to bind PCNA in a filter binding assay and this peptide suppressed recombinant p21-PCNA interaction. Conformational analysis revealed that peptides spanning amino acids 21-45 and 139-164 tended towards an alpha-helical conformation in trifluoroethanol buffer, indicating that these regions are probably in a coiled conformation in the native protein. Taken together, our results provide an insight into domains of p21 that are involved in cyclin E/Cdk2 and PCNA interaction. Our results also suggest that a potential p21 dimerization domain may lie in the amino-terminus of p21. Continued exploration of these domains could prove useful in assessing p21-mimetic strategies for cancer treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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