Transactivation of the human p53 tumor suppressor gene by c-Myc/Max contributes to elevated mutant p53 expression in some tumors

Baishali Roy, John Beamon, Eva Balint, David Reisman

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109 Citations (Scopus)


Elevated levels of mutant forms of the p53 tumor suppressor are a hallmark of many transformed cells. Multiple mechanisms such as increased stability of the protein and increased transcription of the gene can account for elevated p53 expression. Recent findings indicate that c-Myc/Max heterodimers can bind to an essential CA(C/T)GTG-containing site in the p53 promoter and elevate its expression. We have addressed the possibility that elevated mutant p53 expression is due to deregulated c-Myc expression. Here we demonstrate that the human p53 promoter is transactivated by high c-Myc expression and repressed by high Max expression. In examining the relative levels of c-Myc and p53 in human Burkitt's lymphomas and other B-lymphoid lines, we found that there is a correlation between the levels of c-Myc protein and p53 mRNA expression. In particular, cells that express very low levels of c-Myc protein also express low levels of p53 mRNA, while cells that express high levels of c-Myc tend to express high levels of p53 mRNA. To determine whether the p53 gene can be a target for c-Myc in vivo, we assayed the effects of antisense c-myc RNA on the levels of endogenous p53 mRNA. The results indicate that the presence of antisense c-myc RNA leads to a reduction in the levels of c-Myc protein, p53 mRNA, and expression from the p53 promoter. Taken together, our findings support a direct role for c-Myc in elevating expression of the mutant p53 gene in some tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7805-7815
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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