p53-dependent repression of polo-like kinase-1 (PLK1)

Cell Cycle. 2010 Oct 15;9(20):4200-12. doi: 10.4161/cc.9.20.13532. Epub 2010 Oct 4.


PLK1 is a critical mediator of G₂/M cell cycle transition that is inactivated and depleted as part of the DNA damage-induced G₂/M checkpoint. Here we show that downregulation of PLK1 expression occurs through a transcriptional repression mechanism and that p53 is both necessary and sufficient to mediate this effect. Repression of PLK1 by p53 occurs independently of p21 and of arrest at G₁/S where PLK1 levels are normally repressed in a cell cycle-dependent manner through a CDE/CHR element. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis indicates that p53 is present on the PLK1 promoter at two distinct sites termed p53RE1 and p53RE2. Recruitment of p53 to p53RE2, but not to p53RE1, is stimulated in response to DNA damage and/or p53 activation and is coincident with repression-associated changes in the chromatin. Downregulation of PLK1 expression by p53 is relieved by the histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A, and involves recruitment of histone deacetylase to the vicinity of p53RE2, further supporting a transcriptional repression mechanism. Additionally, wild type, but not mutant, p53 represses expression of the PLK1 promoter when fused upstream of a reporter gene. Silencing of PLK1 expression by RNAi interferes with cell cycle progression consistent with a role in the p53-mediated checkpoint. These data establish PLK1 as a direct transcriptional target of p53, independently of p21, that is required for efficient G₂/M arrest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation* / drug effects
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology
  • Imidazoles / metabolism
  • Piperazines / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Imidazoles
  • Piperazines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • trichostatin A
  • nutlin 3
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • polo-like kinase 1