A conditional Mdm2 allele shows the importance of Mdm2 in heart development

Jason Dwain Grier, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Over 50% of sporadic tumors in humans have a p53 mutation highlighting its importance as a tumor suppressor. Considering additional mutations in other genes involved in p53 pathways, every tumor probably has mutant p53 or impaired p53-mediated functions. In response to a variety of cellular and genotoxic stresses, p53, mainly through its transcriptional activity, induces pathways involved in apoptosis and growth arrest. In these circumstances and under normal situations, p53 must be tightly regulated. Mdm2 is an important regulator of p53. Mdm2 inhibits p53 function by binding and blocking its transactivation domain. In addition, Mdm2 helps target p53 for degradation through its E3 ligase activity. Mdm2 null mice are embryonic lethal due to apoptosis in the blastocysts. However, a p53 null background rescues this lethality demonstrating the importance of the p53-Mdm2 interaction, particularly during development. The lethality of the Mdm2 null mouse prior to implantation limits the ability to investigate the role of Mdm2 in regulating p53 in a temporal and tissue specific manner. Does p53 need to be regulated in all tissues throughout the life of a mouse? Does Mdm2 always have to regulate it? To address these questions, we created a conditional Mdm2 allele. The conditional allele, Mdm2FM, in the presence of Cre recombinase results in the deletion of exons 5 and 6 of Mdm2 (most of the p53 binding domain) and represents a null allele. The Mdm2FM allele was crossed with a heart muscle specific Cre expressing mouse (α-myosin heavy chain promoter driven Cre) to ask whether Mdm2 acts as a negative regulator of p53 in the heart. The heart is the most prominent organ early in embryogenesis and is shaped by cell death and proliferation. p53 does not appear to be active in the heart in response to some types of stress, so it remained to be determined if it has to be regulated in normal heart development. Loss of Mdm2 in the heart results in heart defects as early as E9.5. Loss of Mdm2 results in stabilized p53 and apoptosis. This apoptosis leads to a thinning of the myocardial wall particularly in the ventricles and abnormal ventricular structure. Eventually the abnormal heart fails resulting in lethality by E13.5. The embryonic lethality is rescued in a p53 null background. Thus, Mdm2 is important in regulating p53 in the development of the heart.

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Recommended Citation

Grier, Jason Dwain, "A conditional Mdm2 allele shows the importance of Mdm2 in heart development" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3195262.