Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Genes and Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Michelle Barton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sharon Dent, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Guillermina Lozano, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elsa Flores, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Frost, Ph.D.


The p53-family of proteins regulates expression of target genes during tissue development and differentiation. Within the p53-family, p53 and p73 have hepatic-specific functions in development and tumor suppression. Despite a growing list of p53/p73 target genes, very few of these have been studied in vivo, and the knowledge regarding functions of p53 and p73 in normal tissues remains limited. p53+/-p73+/- mice develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), whereas overexpression of p53 in human HCC leads to tumor regression. However, the mechanism of p53/p73 function in liver remains poorly characterized. Here, the model of mouse liver regeneration is used to identify new target genes for p53/p73 in normal quiescent vs. proliferating cells. In response to surgical removal of ~2/3 of liver mass (partial hepatectomy, PH), the remaining hepatocytes exit G0 of cell cycle and undergo proliferation to reestablish liver mass. The hypothesis tested in this work is that p53/p73 functions in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and senescence are repressed during liver regeneration, and reactivated at the end of the regenerative response. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), with a p73-antibody, was used to probe arrayed genomic sequences (ChIP-chip) and uncover 158 potential targets of p73-regulation in normal liver. Global microarray analysis of mRNA levels, at T=0-48h following PH, revealed sets of genes that change expression during regeneration. Eighteen p73-bound genes changed expression after PH. Four of these genes, Foxo3, Jak1, Pea15, and Tuba1 have p53 response elements (p53REs), identified in silico within the upstream regulatory region. Forkhead transcription factor Foxo3 is the most responsive gene among transcription factors with altered expression during regenerative, cellular proliferation. p53 and p73 bind a Foxo3 p53RE and maintain active expression in quiescent liver. During liver regeneration, binding of p53 and p73, recruitment of acetyltransferase p300, and an active chromatin structure of Foxo3 are disrupted, alongside loss of Foxo3 expression. These parameters of Foxo3 regulation are reestablished at completion of liver growth and regeneration, supporting a temporary suspension of p53 and p73 regulatory functions in normal cells during tissue regeneration.


p53, p73, forkhead, transcription, liver, regeneration