The structural and functional relationship of thep53 tumor suppressor protein

Diana Lynn Hulboy, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The tumor-suppressing function of p53 can be affected in a variety of manners. Here, we describe a novel mechanism of transformation by mutant p53. Previously, it had been believed that mutant p53 molecules transform cells by oligomerizing with wild-type p53 and inactivating it. However, we demonstrated that there exists an additional mechanism of inactivation of p53 available to p53 mutants. It involves sequestration of cofactors necessary to p53, and subsequent interruption of its transactivation and tumor suppression functions. The p53 amino or carboxyl termini, known to interact with a large number of cellular factors, can affect wild-type p53 in this manner. Although they are unable to oligomerize with wild-type p53, they transform cells containing p53, and inhibit its transactivation ability. In addition, they interrupt growth suppression by p53, but not RB, confirming that they specifically affect p53 function, rather than having a general growth-stimulatory phenomenon. Also, we have cloned a p53 tumor mutation which results in expression of the amino terminus of p53. This provides a means to study the factor-sequestration transforming mechanism in vivo. Additionally, we found that the published sequence of the mdm2 gene is in error. mdm2 is a gene intimately involved with p53, blocking its ability to transform cells. Finally, previous data had established the influence of cell-cycle status on p53 function. In growth-arrested cells, wild-type p53 expressed by a transgene cannot activate transcription, but if these cells are forced to cycle by addition of cyclin E, p53 once again becomes functional. In this study, we extend these findings by examining only those cells successfully transfected, using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Our results support the previous data, that cyclin E pushes growth-arrested cells back into the cell cycle. In summary, we have demonstrated the potential importance of cofactor association and protein modification to the abilities of p53 to cause transcription activation and repression, inhibition of DNA replication and induction of DNA repair, and initiation of cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. Further elucidation of these processes and their roles in tumor suppression will prove fascinating indeed.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Hulboy, Diana Lynn, "The structural and functional relationship of thep53 tumor suppressor protein" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9601205.