p53 mutants exhibiting enhanced transcriptional activation and altered promoter selectivity are revealed using a sensitive, yeast-based functional assay

Alberto Inga, Paola Monti, Gilberto Fronza, Tom Darden, Michael A. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Changes in promoter specificity and binding affinity that may be associated with p53 mutations or post-translational modifications are useful in understanding p53 structure/function relationships and categorizing tumor mutations. We have exploited variable expression of human p53 in yeast to identify mutants with novel phenotypes that would correspond to altered promoter selectivity and affinity. The p53 cDNA regions coding for the DNA binding and tetramerization domains were subjected to random PCR mutagenesis and were cloned directly by recombination in yeast into a vector with a GALl promoter whose level of expression could be easily varied. p53 variants exhibiting higher than wild type levels of transactivation (supertrans) for the RGC responsive element were identified at low level of p53 protein expression. All the p53 mutants obtained with this screen were located in the DNA binding domain. Two out of 17 supertrans mutants have been found in tumors. Six mutations were in the L1 loop region between amino acids 115 and 124. The transactivation potential of a panel of supertrans p53 mutants on different promoters was evaluated using the p53 responsive elements, RGC, PIG3, p21 and bax. Although all mutants retained some activity with all promoters, we found different patterns of induction based on strength and promoter specificity. In particular none of the mutants was supertrans for the p21 responsive element. Interestingly, further analysis in yeast showed that the transactivation function could be retained even in the presence of dominant-negative p53 tumor mutations that could inhibit wild type p53. Five mutants were also characterized in human cells in terms of growth suppression and transactivation of various promoters. These novel supertrans p53 mutants may he useful in studies aimed at dissecting p53 downstream pathways, understanding specific interactions between p53 and the DNA, and could replace wild type p53 in cancer gene therapy protocols. The approach may also prove useful in identifying p53 tumor mutations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-513
Number of pages13
JournalOncogene
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 25 2001

Keywords

  • Dominance
  • Enhanced transactivation
  • p53
  • Yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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