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The p53 family of proteins play instrumental roles in mediating the cellular response to stress. The p53-related gene product, p73, occurs as two distinct protein isoforms, referred to as α and β, which differ in the length of the C-terminal region and arise through alternative splicing of the p73 RNA. Here, we describe an analysis of the transcription properties of p73 and show that although there are certain similarities between transcriptional activation mediated by p73 and p53, such as in their sensitivity to adenovirus E1A and the requirement for p300/CBP co-activator proteins, significant differences are apparent in the response mechanisms. Thus, we find that p73 shows a degree of specificity for the promoters of target genes that is quantitatively distinct from the response mediated by p53. For example, p73 activates the GADD45 gene more efficiently than p53, whereas the reverse situation was apparent for the p21 gene. These effects are, in part, due to the influence of a regulatory domain present in the extended C-terminal of the α isoform. Moreover, we provide evidence that this domain regulates protein abundance by influencing the proteasome-dependent degradation of p73. These data define a novel level of isoform-specific control in regulating p73 activity, and thereby highlight a significant difference between the mechanisms that govern the transcriptional activity of p53 and p73.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





4171 - 4181