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Oncogene. 1998 May 28;16(21):2695-710.

Functional interplay between p53 and E2F through co-activator p300.

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Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Glasgow, UK.


Both E2F and p53 are sequence specific transcription factors that regulate early cell cycle progression. The pathway of control mediated through E2F governs the transition from G1 into S phase whereas p53 in response to genotoxic stress can facilitate cell cycle arrest or apoptosis. The mechanisms which influence the outcome of p53 induction are not clear, although transcription of the p53 target gene, encoding the cdk-inhibitor p21(Waf1/Cip1), correlates with p53-mediated cell cycle arrest. Here using a combination of biochemical and functional assays we identify p300 as a co-activator required for p53-dependent transcriptional activation of Waf1/Cip1. Furthermore, we show that the cdk-inhibitor p21(Waf1/Cip1) autoregulates in a positive fashion transcription through modulating the activity of the p53/p300 complex, whilst negatively regulating the activity of E2F by preventing cdk-dependent phosphorylation of pRb. Consistent with a role for p21(Waf1/Cip1) in the autoregulation of p53-dependent transcription, p300 augments the ability of p53 to cause G1 arrest and, conversely, cells undergoing p53-dependent apoptosis are rescued by p300. Thus, our data suggest that the ability of p300 to interact with p53 influences the physiological consequence of p53 activation. From previous studies it is known that cells expressing aberrant levels of E2F-1 can undergo p53-dependent apoptosis. In addition, we find that E2F-1 can cause apoptosis in p53-/- tumour cells and further p300, which also functions as a co-activator for the E2F/DP heterodimer, enhances the apoptotic activity of E2F-1. In conditions where E2F-1 and p53 co-operate in apoptosis E2F-1 can effectively compete for p300, causing a reduction in p53-dependent transcription. Thus, a functional interaction between p300 and either p53 or E2F-1 has a profound impact on early cell cycle progression, specifically in regulating the contrasting outcomes of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. These results suggest a critical role for p300 in integrating and co-ordinating the functional interplay between the pathways of growth control mediated by E2F and p53.

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