Activation of p53 protein by telomeric (TTAGGG)n repeats

Michael Milyavsky, Avishai Mimran, Shai Senderovich, Irit Zurer, Neta Erez, Igor Shats, Naomi Goldfinger, Irun Cohen, Varda Rotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genome instability is a primary factor leading to the activation of the p53 tumor suppressor protein. Telomeric repeat (TR) sequences are also responsible for genome integrity. By capping the termini of the chromosomes, TRs prevent them undergoing nucleolytic degradation, ligation or chromosome fusion. Interestingly, telomere shortening was suggested to activate p53, which in turn may cause primary cells to senesce. In order to elucidate the nature of a possible cross talk between the two, we introduced into cells TRs of defined length and investigated their effect on p53 activation and subsequent cellular response. We found that the introduction of a TR into cells leads to stabilization of the p53 protein. This stabilization was specific to TRs and was not observed in response to exposure of cells to plasmids containing non-TR sequences. p53 stabilization requires the presence of an intact p53 oligomerization domain. TR-activated p53 exhibited enhanced transcriptional activity. Eventually, TRs induced p53-dependent growth suppression, measured as a reduction in colony formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5207-5215
Number of pages9
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number24
StatePublished - 24 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


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