We recently showed that ASPP1 and ASPP2 stimulate the apoptotic function of p53. We show here that ASPP1 and ASPP2 also induce apoptosis independently of p53. By binding to p63 and p73 in vitro and in vivo, ASPP1 and ASPP2 stimulate the transactivation function of p63 and p73 on the promoters of Bax, PIG3, and PUMA but not mdm2 or p21(WAF-1/CIP1). The expression of ASPP1 and ASPP2 also enhances the apoptotic function of p63 and p73 by selectively inducing the expression of endogenous p53 target genes, such as PIG3 and PUMA, but not mdm2 or p21(WAF-1/CIP1). Removal of endogenous p63 or p73 with RNA interference demonstrated that (16) the p53-independent apoptotic function of ASPP1 and ASPP2 is mediated mainly by p63 and p73. Hence, ASPP1 and ASPP2 are the first two identified common activators of all p53 family members. All these results suggest that ASPP1 and ASPP2 could suppress tumor growth even in tumors expressing mutant p53.
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