Francoz, Sarah S
02 June 2006
The Mdm2 and Mdm4 oncoproteins are key negative regulators of the p53 tumor suppressor. However, their physiological contributions to the regulation of p53 stability and activity remain highly controversial. Here, we combined a p53 knock-in allele, in which p53 is silenced by a transcriptional stop element flanked by loxP sites, with the Mdm2- and Mdm4-null alleles. This approach allows Cre-mediated conditional p53 expression in tissues in vivo and cells in vitro lacking Mdm2, Mdm4, or both. Using this strategy, we show that Mdm2 and Mdm4 are essential in a nonredundant manner for preventing p53 activity in the same cell type (Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts (MEFs), neuronal progenitor cells and postmitotic neurons) and irrespective of the proliferation/differentiation status of the cells. Although Mdm2 prevents accumulation of the p53 protein, Mdm4 contributes to the overall inhibition of p53 activity independent of Mdm2. We propose a model in which Mdm2 is critical for the regulation of p53 levels and Mdm4 is critical for the fine-tuning of p53 transcriptional activity, both proteins acting synergistically to keep p53 in check. Finally, we show that neither Mdm2 nor Mdm4 regulate cell cycle progression independently of its ability to modulate p53 function.
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