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Oncogene. 1997 Aug 18;15(8):887-98.

The polyproline region of p53 is required to activate apoptosis but not growth arrest.

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Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


p53 is a pivotal regulator of apoptosis but its mechanism of action is obscure. We report that the polyproline (PP) region located between p53's transactivation and DNA binding domains is necessary to induce apoptosis but not cell growth arrest. The PP region was dispensable for DNA binding, inhibition of SAOS-2 tumor cell growth, suppression of E1A + RAS cell transformation, and cell cycle inhibition. A temperature-sensitive dominant inhibitory p53 mutant lacking PP (p53ts deltaPP) retained its ability to cooperate with adenovirus E1A in transformation of primary BRK cells. However, while activation of wt p53 induced apoptosis in E1A + p53ts-transformed cells, activation of p53 deltaPP induced cell cycle arrest but not apoptosis in E1A + p53ts deltaPP-transformed cells. Similarly, PP deletion abolished apoptosis in LoVo colon carcinoma cells, which are killed by wt p53 overexpression. Transactivation was largely unaffected by PP deletion. Significantly, BAX induction was intact, indicating that additional events are required for p53 to induce apoptosis. As a recently described site for familial mutation in at least one breast cancer family, the PP region represents a domain that may be altered in human tumors. We concluded that p53's ability to induce apoptosis is dispensable for inhibiting cell growth and transformation and that the PP region plays a crucial role in apoptotic signaling.

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