Family members p53 and p73 act together in chromatin modification and direct repression of α-fetoprotein transcription

Rutao Cui, Thi T. Nguyen, Joseph H. Taube, Sabrina A. Stratton, Miriam H. Feuerman, Michelle Craig Barton

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47 Scopus citations


Aberrant expression of the α-fetoprotein (AFP) gene is a diagnostic tumor marker of hepatocellular carcinoma. We find that AFP gene expression is repressed by the TP53 family member p73 during normal hepatic development and when p73α or p73β is introduced into cultured hepatoma cells that express AFP. Transient co-transfection of p53 family members showed that p53 and transactivating (TA)-p73, but not TA-p63, repress endogenous AFP transcription additively or independently. p53-independent functions of p73 are further supported by delayed, p73-associated compensation of AFP repression during development of the p53-null mouse. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays of normal and p53-null mouse liver tissue showed that TA-p73 binds at a previously identified p53 repressor site (-860/-830) within the distal promoter of AFP at a level equivalent to p53 in wild type liver, with increased binding of TA-p73 to chromatin in the absence of p53. Sequential chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses revealed that TA-p73 and p53 bind simultaneously to their shared regulatory site in wild type liver. Like the founding family member p53, TA-p73 represses AFP expression by chromatin structure alteration, targeting reduction of acetylated histone H3 lysine 9 and increased dimethylated histone H3 lysine 9 levels. However, chromatin-bound TA-p73 is associated with elevated di- and tri-methylated histone H3 lysine 4 levels in p53-null liver and hepatoma cells, concomitant with a reduced ability to repress transcription compared with p53.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39152-39160
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 25 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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