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Oncogene. 1998 Jun 18;16(24):3169-76.

'Gain of function' phenotype of tumor-derived mutant p53 requires the oligomerization/nonsequence-specific nucleic acid-binding domain.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 78284, USA.


Tumor-derived p53 mutants can transcriptionally activate a number of promoters of genes involved in cellular proliferation. For this transactivation, mutant p53 does not use the wild-type p53 DNA-binding site, suggesting a mechanism of transactivation that is independent of direct DNA binding. Here we describe our analysis of the domain requirements for mutant p53 to transactivate promoters of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), human multiple drug resistance 1 (MDR-1) and human proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) genes. We also report the identification of a structural domain required for the 'gain of function' property of mutant p53-281G. 'Gain of function' is measured as the tumorigenicity (in nude mice) of 10(3) murine cells expressing mutant p53 constitutively. We have generated internal deletion mutants of p53-281G deleting conserved domains I, II, III, IV and V, individually. We have also generated one deletion mutant eliminating amino acids 100 through 300 that removes four of the five conserved domains (II - V); another mutant, p53-281G del 393-327, deletes the oligomerization and nonsequence-specific nucleic acid-binding domains of p53. For the EGFR and MDR-1 promoters, all these mutants have significantly lower transactivation ability than intact p53-281G. These deletion mutants, however, significantly activated the pCNA promoter, suggesting that the mechanism of transactivation of the PCNA promoter is different from that of the EGFR and MDR-1 promoters. When expressed constitutively in 10(3) cells, p53-281G del 393-327 was found to be defective in inducing tumor formation in nude mice although intact p53-281G was very efficient. Thus, our results suggest that structural domains near the C-terminus are needed for 'gain of function'.

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