P63 regulates tubular formation via epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

Oncogene. 2014 Mar 20;33(12):1548-57. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.101. Epub 2013 Apr 1.


P63, a p53 family member, is expressed as TA and ΔN isoforms. Interestingly, both TAp63 and ΔNp63 are transcription factors, and regulate both common and distinct sets of target genes. p63 is required for survival of some epithelial cell lineages, and lack of p63 leads to loss of epidermis and other epithelia in humans and mice. Here, we explored the role of p63 isoforms in cell proliferation, migration and tubulogenesis by using Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) tubular epithelial cells in two- or three-dimensional (2-D or 3-D) culture. We found that like downregulation of p53, downregulation of p63 and TAp63 decreases expression of growth-suppressing genes, including p21, PUMA and MIC-1, and consequently promotes cell proliferation and migration in 2-D culture. However, in 3-D culture, downregulation of p63, especially TAp63, but not p53, decapacitates MDCK cells to form a cyst structure through enhanced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In contrast, downregulation of ΔNp63 inhibits MDCK cell proliferation and migration in 2-D culture, and delays but does not block MDCK cell cyst formation and tubulogenesis in 3-D culture. Consistent with this, downregulation of ΔNp63 markedly upregulates growth-suppressing genes, including p21, PUMA and MIC-1. Taken together, these data suggest that TAp63 is the major isoform required for tubulogenesis by maintaining an appropriate level of EMT, whereas ΔNp63 fine-tunes the rate of cyst formation and tubulogenesis by maintaining an appropriate expression level of genes involved in cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Dogs
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Protein Isoforms / deficiency
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / deficiency
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins