The alternatively spliced RNA species of tumor suppressor gene p53, containing an additional 96 bases derived from intron 10, is present at approximately 25 to 30% the level of regularly spliced p53 RNA in both normal epidermal and carcinoma cells. The presence of this alternatively spliced RNA in 10T1/2 fibroblast cells, mouse liver and testis suggests that this alternative splicing may be universal. The level of alternatively spliced p53 RNA was increased coordinatety with that of regularly spliced p53 in 10T1/2 cells in response to epidermal growth factor. Immunoprecipitation analysis of epidermal cells using monoclonal antibodies which recognize different epitopes of p53 suggested that distinct p53 proteins may be translated from both RNA species. Considering previous observations on the potential importance of carboxyl terminal sequences in p53 function, knowledge of the ubiquitous presence of alternatively spliced p53 is important for future studies of p53 function in normal cells and in oncogenesis.
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