Background: Insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP)-3 functions as a carrier of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in circulation and a mediator of the growth suppression signal in cells. There are two reported p53 regulatory regions in the IGFBP3 gene; one upstream of the promoter and one intronic. We previously reported a hot spot of promoter hypermethylation of IGFBP-3 in human hepatocellular carcinomas and derivative cell lines. As the hot spot locates at the putative upstream p53 consensus sequences, these p53 consensus sequences are really functional is a question to be answered.
Methods: In this study, we examined the p53 consensus sequences upstream of the IGFBP-3 promoter for the p53 induced expression of IGFBP-3. Deletion, mutagenesis, and methylation constructs of IGFBP-3 promoter were assessed in the human hepatoblastoma cell line HepG2 for promoter activity.
Results: Deletions and mutations of these sequences completely abolished the expression of IGFBP-3 in the presence of p53 overexpression. In vitro methylation of these p53 consensus sequences also suppressed IGFBP-3 expression. In contrast, the expression of IGFBP-3 was not affected in the absence of p53 overexpression. Further, we observed by electrophoresis mobility shift assay that p53 binding to the promoter region was diminished when methylated.
Conclusion: From these observations, we conclude that four out of eleven p53 consensus sequences upstream of the IGFBP-3 promoter are essential for the p53 induced expression of IGFBP-3, and hypermethylation of these sequences selectively suppresses p53 induced IGFBP-3 expression in HepG2 cells.