p73, mapped to 1p36.2-3, is a p53-related tumor suppressor but is also induced by the oncogene products such as E2F1, raising a question whether p73 is a tumor suppressor gene or oncogene. p73 has several splicing variants including DeltaNp73 which lacks the NH(2)-terminal transactivation domain. In developing neurons, DeltaNp73 is expressed abundantly and seems to inhibit the pro-apoptotic function of p53. However, the role of TAp73 and DeltaNp73 as well as their regulatory mechanism in cell growth and differentiation of neuroblastoma cells are poorly understood. We have found that TAp73 directly activates the transcription of endogenous DeltaNp73 by binding to the TAp73-specific target element located at position-76 to 57 within the DeltaNp73 promoter region. DeltaNp73 was physically associated with TAp73alpha, TAp73beta and p53, and inhibited their transactivation activities when used reporters of Mdm2, Bax or DeltaNp73 itself in SAOS-2 cells. Overexpression of DeltaNp73 in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells promoted cell survival by competing with p53 and TAp73 itself. Thus, our results suggest that the negative feedback regulation of TAp73 by its target DeltaNp73 is a novel autoregulatory system for modulating cell survival and death, that is also functioning in neuroblastoma cells.