Accelerated MDM2 auto-degradation induced by DNA-damage kinases is required for p53 activation

Jayne M. Stommel, Geoffrey M. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

319 Scopus citations


p53 activation prevents the proliferation of genetically unstable cells. Conversely, p53 antagonism by its transcriptional target, the E3 ubiquitin ligase MDM2, is critical for the viability of unstressed, cycling cells. We demonstrate that MDM2 induces the degradation of p53 in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. As p53 and MDM2 accumulate in the nuclei of stressed cells, we investigated mechanisms enabling p53 activation despite the high MDM2 levels generated during a DNA-damage response. We show that DNA damage destabilized MDM2 by a mechanism involving damage-activated kinases and MDM2 auto-ubiquitination. p53 was stable and transcriptionally active when MDM2 was unstable, but became unstable and inactive as the damage response waned and MDM2 stabilized. Importantly, blocking MDM2 destabilization in DNA-damaged cells prevented p53 target gene activation. Our data reveal that controlled MDM2 degradation is an important new step in p53 regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1547-1556
Number of pages10
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 7 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • E3 ubiquitin ligase
  • HDM2
  • MDM2
  • PI3K-related protein kinase
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Accelerated MDM2 auto-degradation induced by DNA-damage kinases is required for p53 activation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this