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Identification of a novel p53 functional domain that is necessary for efficient growth suppression.

Walker K.K., Levine A.J.

Activation of the p53 tumor suppressor protein has been demonstrated to block cell growth by inducing either a transient cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis). Although evidence exists linking p53's function as an activator of transcription to its ability to effect cell cycle arrest, the role of this activity in the induction of apoptosis remains unclear. To gain insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying p53-mediated antiproliferative pathways, a study was initiated to explore the functions of a putative p53 signaling domain. This region of the human p53 protein is localized between amino acids 61 and 94 (out of 393) and is noteworthy in that it contains five repeats of the sequence PXXP (where P represents proline and X any amino acid). This motif has been shown to play a role in signal transduction via its SH3 domain binding activity. A p53 cDNA deletion mutant (delta pro AE), which lacks this entire proline-rich domain (deleted for amino acids 62-91), was created and characterized for a variety of p53 functions. The entire domain has been shown to be completely dispensable for transcriptional activation. On the other hand, this deletion of the p53 proline-rich domain impairs p53's ability to suppress tumor cell growth in culture. Amino acid substitution mutations at residues 22 and 23 of p53 (eliminates transcriptional activity) also impair p53-mediated inhibition of cell growth in culture. Unlike wild-type p53, the delta proAE mutant cDNA can be stably expressed in tumor derived cell lines with few immediate detrimental effects. These cells express physiologic levels of p53 protein that are induced normally in response to DNA damage, indicating that removal of the proline-rich domain does not disrupt p53's upstream regulation by DNA damage. These data indicate that, in addition to the transcriptional activation domain, the p53 proline-rich domain plays a critical role in the transmission of antiproliferative signals down-stream of the p53 protein and may link p53 to a direct signal transduction pathway.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93:15335-15340(1996) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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