The tumor suppressor p53 modulates transcription of a number of target genes involved in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, DNA repair, and other important cellular responses. Mitofusin-2 (Mfn2) is a novel suppressor of cell proliferation that may also exert apoptotic effects via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Through bioinformatics analysis, we identified a p53 binding site in the Mfn2 promoter. Consistent with this, we showed that the p53 protein binds the Mfn2 promoter directly both in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, we found that Mfn2 mRNA and protein levels are up-regulated in a p53-dependent manner. Furthermore, luciferase assays revealed that the activity of the wild-type Mfn2 promoter, but not a mutated version of the promoter, was up-regulated by p53. These results indicate that Mfn2 is a novel p53-inducible target gene, which provides insight into the regulation of Mfn2 and its associated activities in the inhibition of cell proliferation, promotion of apoptosis, and modulation of tumor suppression.
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