The Δ40p53 isoform inhibits p53-dependent eRNA transcription and enables regulation by signal-specific transcription factors during p53 activation Journal Article uri icon



  • The naturally occurring Δ40p53 isoform heterotetramerizes with wild-type p53 (WTp53) to regulate development, aging, and stress responses. How Δ40p53 alters WTp53 function remains enigmatic because their co-expression causes tetramer heterogeneity. We circumvented this issue with a well-tested strategy that expressed Δ40p53:WTp53 as a single transcript, ensuring a 2:2 tetramer stoichiometry. Human MCF10A cell lines expressing Δ40p53:WTp53, WTp53, or WTp53:WTp53 (as controls) from the native TP53 locus were examined with transcriptomics (precision nuclear run-on sequencing [PRO-seq] and RNA sequencing [RNA-seq]), metabolomics, and other methods. Δ40p53:WTp53 was transcriptionally active, and, although phenotypically similar to WTp53 under normal conditions, it failed to induce growth arrest upon Nutlin-induced p53 activation. This occurred via Δ40p53:WTp53-dependent inhibition of enhancer RNA (eRNA) transcription and subsequent failure to induce mRNA biogenesis, despite similar genomic occupancy to WTp53. A different stimulus (5-fluorouracil [5FU]) also showed Δ40p53:WTp53-specific changes in mRNA induction; however, other transcription factors (TFs; e.g., E2F2) could then drive the response, yielding similar outcomes vs. WTp53. Our results establish that Δ40p53 tempers WTp53 function to enable compensatory responses by other stimulus-specific TFs. Such modulation of WTp53 activity may be an essential physiological function for Δ40p53. Moreover, Δ40p53:WTp53 functional distinctions uncovered herein suggest an eRNA requirement for mRNA biogenesis and that human p53 evolved as a tetramer to support eRNA transcription.

publication date

  • August 5, 2021

Date in CU Experts

  • August 16, 2021 11:37 AM

Full Author List

  • Levandowski CB; Jones T; Gruca M; Ramamoorthy S; Dowell RD; Taatjes DJ

author count

  • 6

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1545-7885

Additional Document Info

start page

  • e3001364

end page

  • e3001364


  • 19


  • 8