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Oncogene. 1998 Aug 13;17(6):781-7.

Uncoupling of p21WAF1/CIP1/SDI1 mRNA and protein expression upon genotoxic stress.

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Forschungsschwerpunkt Angewandte Tumorvirologie, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Heidelberg, Germany.


The p21WAF1/CIP1/SDI1 gene is an important regulator of crucial cellular processes, including cell cycle control, cellular differentiation, and the response to genotoxic stress. Induction of p21 gene expression upon DNA damage is widely believed to be p53-dependent. In the present study we analysed the expression of p21 following genotoxic stress, using different DNA-damaging agents and cellular systems. We found that the p21 response markedly varied between different cell lines and also for different genotoxic agents within the same cell line. Genotoxic induction of p21 mRNA expression can occur in the presence of p53-antagonists, such as overexpressed mdm-2 or human papillomavirus (HPV) E6, and in cells harbouring mutated p53 genes. Moreover, upon genotoxic stress, p21 mRNA and protein expression were found to be uncoupled in several cell lines. Thus, transcriptional and postranscriptional changes in p21 expression following DNA damage are not necessarily linked to the intracellular p53 status but strongly depend on the individual cellular background and the type of DNA-damaging agent. Our findings indicate that p21 expression following genotoxic stress underlies a complex control and can be substantially modulated on the posttranscriptional level in a cell-specific manner.

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