The Alzheimer's disease-associated TREM2 gene is regulated by p53 tumor suppressor protein

Neurosci Lett. 2018 Aug 10:681:62-67. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.05.037. Epub 2018 May 26.


TREM2 mutations evoke neurodegenerative disorders, and recently genetic variants of this gene were correlated to increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. The signaling cascade originating from the TREM2 membrane receptor includes its binding partner TYROBP, BLNK adapter protein, and SYK kinase, which can be activated by p53. Moreover, in silico identification of a putative p53 response element (RE) at the TREM2 promoter led us to hypothesize that TREM2 and other pathway elements may be regulated in p53-dependent manner. To stimulate p53 in synergistic fashion, we exposed A549 lung cancer cells to actinomycin D and nutlin-3a (A + N). In these cells, exposure to A + N triggered expression of TREM2, TYROBP, SYK and BLNK in p53-dependent manner. TREM2 was also activated by A + N in U-2 OS osteosarcoma and A375 melanoma cell lines. Interestingly, nutlin-3a, a specific activator of p53, acting alone stimulated TREM2 in U-2 OS cells. Using in vitro mutagenesis, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and luciferase reporter assays, we confirmed the presence of the p53 RE in TREM2 promoter. Furthermore, activation of TREM2 and TYROBP by p53 was strongly inhibited by CHIR-98014, a potent and specific inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). We conclude that TREM2 is a direct p53-target gene, and that activation of TREM2 by A + N or nutlin-3a may be critically dependent on GSK-3 function.

Keywords: Actinomycin D; Alzheimer's disease; Nutlin-3a; TREM2; p53.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / agonists
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / agonists
  • Receptors, Immunologic / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / agonists
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / biosynthesis*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • TREM2 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Dactinomycin