In response to DNA damage, p53 induces either cell-cycle arrest or apoptosis by differential transcription of several target genes and through transcription-independent apoptotic functions. p53 phosphorylation at Ser46 by HIPK2 is one determinant of the outcome because it takes place only upon severe, nonrepairable DNA damage that irreversibly drives cells to apoptosis. Here, we show that p53 represses its proapoptotic activator HIPK2 via MDM2-mediated degradation, whereas a degradation-resistant HIPK2 mutant has increased apoptotic activity. Upon cytostatic, nonsevere DNA damage, inhibition of HIPK2 degradation is sufficient to induce p53Ser46 phosphorylation and apoptosis, converting growth-arresting stimuli to apoptotic ones. These findings establish HIPK2 as an MDM2 target and support a model in which, upon nonsevere DNA damage, p53 represses its own phosphorylation at Ser46 due to HIPK2 degradation, supporting the notion that the cell-cycle-arresting functions of p53 include active inhibition of the apoptotic ones.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology