Androgen induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 gene: role of androgen receptor and transcription factor Sp1 complex

Mol Endocrinol. 2000 May;14(5):753-60. doi: 10.1210/mend.14.5.0461.


Previous studies have shown that androgen up-regulates expression of the p21 (WAF1, CIP1, SDI1, CAP20) gene, which contains a canonical androgen response element (ARE) in its proximal promoter region. We undertook the current studies to determine whether elements in the p21 promoter other than the ARE mediate androgen action. We found that deletion of the ARE did not completely abolish the promoter responsiveness to androgen, suggesting that additional cis-regulatory elements within the p21 core promoter may also be involved in androgen responsiveness. The p21 core promoter is GC-rich and contains six binding sites for transcription factor Sp1. We determined whether one or more of these Sp1 sites mediate androgen responsiveness of the p21 promoter. To do so, we used a transient transfection assay with p21 promoter-luciferase reporter constructs. The reporter activity of a construct lacking the ARE but containing all six Sp1 sites was induced approximately 3-fold by androgen. Mutation of Sp1-3 nearly eliminated basal promoter activity as well as androgen responsiveness, whereas deletion of Sp1-1 and Sp1-2 sites and mutation of Sp1-4, Sp1-5, and Sp1-6 sites had relatively little effect. We also used the mammalian one-hybrid assay and coimmunoprecipitation assay to show that androgen receptor (AR) and transcription factor Sp1 interact with one another. The current studies suggest a model in which AR and transcription factor Sp1 not only bind to their respective consensus sites within the p21 promoter, but also complex with one another, thereby recruiting coactivators and general transcription factors and inducing p21 transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Base Sequence
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins / biosynthesis
  • Cyclins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Male
  • Metribolone / pharmacology
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / pathology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptors, Androgen / physiology*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor / physiology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Testosterone Congeners / pharmacology
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Androgens
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor
  • Testosterone Congeners
  • Metribolone
  • Luciferases