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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mutational analysis of the p53 core domain L1 loop.

The p53 tumor suppressor gene acquires missense mutations in over 50% of human cancers, and most of these mutations occur within the central core DNA binding domain. One structurally defined region of the core, the L1 loop (residues 112-124), is a mutational "cold spot" in which relatively few tumor-derived mutations have been identified. To further understand the L1 loop, we subjected this region to both alanine- and arginine-scanning mutagenesis and tested mutants for DNA binding in vitro. Select mutants were then analyzed for transactivation and cell cycle analysis in either transiently transfected cells or cells stably expressing wild-type and mutant proteins at regulatable physiological levels. We focused most extensively on two p53 L1 loop mutants, T123A and K120A. The T123A mutant p53 displayed significantly better DNA binding in vitro as well as stronger transactivation and apoptotic activity in vivo than wild-type p53, particularly toward its pro-apoptotic target AIP1. By contrast, K120A mutant p53, although capable of strong binding in vitro and wild-type levels of transactivation and apoptosis when transfected into cells, showed impaired activity when expressed at normal cellular levels. Our experiments indicate a weaker affinity for DNA in vivo by K120A p53 as the main reason for its defects in transactivation and apoptosis. Overall, our findings demonstrate an important, yet highly modular role for the L1 loop in the recognition of specific DNA sequences, target transactivation, and apoptotic signaling by p53.[1]


  1. Mutational analysis of the p53 core domain L1 loop. Zupnick, A., Prives, C. J. Biol. Chem. (2006) [Pubmed]
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