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Genes Dev. 1996 Dec 1;10(23):2971-80.

Wild-type p53 negatively regulates the expression of a microtubule-associated protein.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, New Jersey 08544, USA.


The product of the p53 tumor suppressor gene has a well-documented activity as a transcriptional activator, and several studies indicate that this function is at least in part essential for the ability of p53 to suppress cellular proliferation. However, there is growing evidence that some activities of wild-type p53 may be independent of its trans-activation function; in fact, recent investigations have indicated that the transcriptional repression function of p53, rather than its trans-activation function, may be influential in p53-mediated apoptosis. The focus of this study has been on the identification of genes that exhibit decreased expression during p53-dependent apoptosis, and therefore represent potential p53-repressed genes influential in programmed cell death. This report identifies the gene encoding the microtubule-associated protein MAP4 as one whose mRNA and protein expression decrease in cells following induction of wild-type p53. Importantly, decreased MAP4 expression following p53 induction can be inhibited by molecules that prevent p53-mediated transcriptional repression and apoptosis, such as the adenovirus E1B-19K protein and the Wilms tumor gene product WT1. Additionally, overexpression of MAP4 in cells induced to undergo p53-dependent apoptosis significantly delays this process, indicating that the negative regulation of this gene by p53 may be influential in the rapid progression of apoptosis.

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