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Oncogene. 1998 Mar 12;16(10):1299-308.

Human smooth muscle alpha-actin gene is a transcriptional target of the p53 tumor suppressor protein.

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  • 1Department of Tumor Biology, Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, New Jersey 07033, USA.


Smooth muscle (sm) alpha-actin is expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells and fibroblast cells. Its expression is regulated by cell proliferation and repressed during oncogenic transformation. In this study, we demonstrate that p53 activation is associated with a dramatic increase in organized microfilament bundles and an increase in sm alpha-actin mRNA level. Wild-type p53, but not mutant p53, strongly stimulated human sm alpha-actin promoter activity in p53 null cell lines. The sequences homologous to the p53 consensus sequence and to the p53 binding sequence from the muscle creatine kinase, were found within a specific region of the sm alpha-actin promoter. This sequence was sufficient to confer p53-dependent activation to a heterologous promoter and p53 was capable of binding to this sequence as assessed by gel shift analysis. Ionizing irradiation of colorectal tumor cells caused an increase in alpha-actin mRNA level in a p53-dependent manner. Taken together, these results demonstrate that human sm alpha-actin gene is a transcriptional target for p53 tumor suppressor protein and represents the first example of a cytoskeletal gene with a functionally defined p53 response element.

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