Acetylation of p53 activates transcription through recruitment of coactivators/histone acetyltransferases

Mol Cell. 2001 Dec;8(6):1243-54. doi: 10.1016/s1097-2765(01)00414-2.


Cellular DNA damage causes stabilization and activation of the tumor suppressor and transcription factor p53, in part by promoting multiple covalent modifications of the p53 protein, including acetylation. We investigated the importance of acetylation in p53 function and the mechanism by which acetylation influences p53 activity. Acetylation site substitutions reduced p53-dependent transcriptional induction and G1 cell cycle arrest. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the endogenous p21 promoter showed increased association of p53, coactivators (CBP and TRRAP), and acetylated histones following cell irradiation. Results with acetylation-defective p53 demonstrate that the critical function of acetylation is not to increase the DNA binding affinity of p53 but rather to promote coactivator recruitment and histone acetylation. Therefore, we propose that an acetylation cascade consisting of p53 acetylation-dependent recruitment of coactivators/HATs is crucial for p53 function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • CREB-Binding Protein
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins / genetics
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Transcriptional Activation*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / chemistry*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • p300-CBP Transcription Factors


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Histones
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • transformation-transcription domain-associated protein
  • Acetyltransferases
  • CREB-Binding Protein
  • CREBBP protein, human
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • p300-CBP Transcription Factors
  • p300-CBP-associated factor