American Society for Microbiology

Transcriptional cross talk between NF-kappa B and p53

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Many cellular stimuli result in the induction of both the tumor suppressor p53 and NF-B. In contrast to activation of p53, which is associated with the induction of apoptosis, stimulation of NF-B has been shown to promote resistance to programmed cell death. These observations suggest that a regulatory mechanism must exist to integrate these opposing outcomes and coordinate this critical cellular decision-making event. Here we show that both p53 and NF-B inhibit each other's ability to stimulate gene expression and that this process is controlled by the relative levels of each transcription factor. Expression of either wild-type p53 or the RelA(p65) NF-B subunit suppresses stimulation of transcription by the other factor from a reporter plasmid in vivo. Moreover, endogenous, tumor necrosis factor alpha-activated NF-B will inhibit endogenous wild-type p53 transactivation. Following exposure to UV light, however, the converse is observed, with p53 downregulating NF-B-mediated transcriptional activation. Both p53 and RelA(p65) interact with the transcriptional coactivator proteins p300 and CREB-binding protein (CBP), and we demonstrate that these results are consistent with competition for a limiting pool of p300/CBP complexes in vivo. These observations have many implications for regulation of the transcriptional decision-making mechanisms that govern cellular processes such as apoptosis. Furthermore, they suggest a previously unrealized mechanism through which dysregulated NF-B can contribute to tumorigenesis and disease.

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