The p53-related p73 proteins regulate developmental processes, cell growth, and DNA damage response. p73 function is regulated by post-translational modifications and protein-protein interactions. At the G2/M transition, p73 is phosphorylated at Thr-86 by the p34cdc2/cyclin B complex; this is associated with its exclusion from condensed chromosomes and loss of DNA binding and transcriptional activation ability. Here we showed that p73 hypo-phosphorylated species reappear during mitotic exit, concomitant with p73 relocalization to telophase nuclei and recovered ability to activate transcription. Functional knock-out of p73 gene expression by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) alters mitotic progression, yielding an increase of ana-telophase cells, the accumulation of aberrant late mitotic figures, and the appearance of abnormalities in the subsequent interphase. This p73 activity at the M-to-G 1 transition is mediated by its transactivating function because expression of the transcription dominant negative mutant p73DD induces the same mitotic exit phenotype. We also found that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor Kip2/p57 gene is a specific target of p73 regulation during mitotic exit and re-entry into G1. Both knock-out of p73 gene expression by siRNAs and abrogation of p73-dependent transcription by the p73DD mutant abrogate Kip2/p57 increase at the M-to-G1 transition. Moreover, similar abnormalities (e.g. delay in late mitotic stages with the accumulation of aberrant ana-telophase figures, and abnormalities in the following interphase) are observed in cultures in which the expression of Kip2/p57 is abrogated by siRNAs. These results identify a novel p73-Kip2/p57 pathway that coordinates mitotic exit and transition to G1.
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