The contribution of transactivation subdomains 1 and 2 to p53-induced gene expression is heterogeneous but not subdomain-specific.
Two adjacent regions within the transactivation domain of p53 are sufficient to support sequence-specific transactivation when fused to a heterologous DNA binding domain. It has been hypothesized that these two subdomains of p53 may contribute to the expression of distinct p53-responsive genes. Here we have used oligonucleotide microarrays to identify transcripts induced by variants of p53 with point mutations within subdomains 1, 2, or 1 and 2 (QS1, QS2, and QS1/QS2, respectively). The expression of 254 transcripts was increased in response to wild-type p53 expression but most of these transcripts were poorly induced by these variants of p53. Strikingly, a number of known p53-regulated transcripts including TNFRSF10B, BAX, BTG2, and POLH were increased to wild-type levels by p53(QS1) and p53(QS2) but not p53(QS1/QS2), indicating that either subdomain 1 or 2 is sufficient for p53-dependent expression of a small subset of p53-responsive genes. Unexpectedly, there was no evidence for p53(QS1)- or p53(QS2)-specific gene expression. Taken together, we found heterogeneity in the requirement for transactivation subdomains 1 and 2 of p53 without any subdomain-specific contribution to p53-induced gene expression.