p53 Targets Chromatin Structure Alteration to Repress α-Fetoprotein Gene Expression

Stacey K. Ogden, Kathleen C. Lee, Kara Wernke-Dollries, Sabrina A. Stratton, Bruce Aronow, Michelle Craig Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Many of the functions ascribed to p53 tumor suppressor protein are mediated through transcription regulation. We have shown that p53 represses hepatic-specific α-fetoprotein (AFP) gene expression by direct interaction with a composite HNF-3/p53 DNA binding element. Using solid-phase, chromatin-assembled AFP DNA templates and analysis of chromatin structure and transcription in vitro, we find that p53 binds DNA and alters chromatin structure at the AFP core promoter to regulate transcription. Chromatin assembled in the presence of hepatoma extracts is activated for AFP transcription with an open, accessible core promoter structure. Distal (-850) binding of p53 during chromatin assembly, but not post-assembly, reverses transcription activation concomitant with promoter inaccessibility to restriction enzyme digestion. Inhibition of histone deacetylase activity by trichostatin-A (TSA) addition, prior to and during chromatin assembly, activated chromatin transcription in parallel with increased core promoter accessibility. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses showed increased H3 and H4 acetylated histones at the core promoter in the presence of TSA, while histone acetylation remained unchanged at the site of distal p53 binding. Our data reveal that p53 targets chromatin structure alteration at the core promoter, independently of effects on histone acetylation, to establish repressed AFP gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42057-42062
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 9 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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