The CRE, 5'-TGACGTCA-3', has been described as the consensus sequence for the cis-element that directs cAMP-regulated gene expression. Many transcription factors bind to this element and regulate the expression of a wide variety of cellular and viral genes. We have shown that CRE- transcription factor decoy oligonucleotide restrains the growth of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo [Park, Y. G., Nesterova, M., Agrawal, S., and Cho- Chung, Y. S. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 1573-1580]. The growth inhibition was accompanied by changes in cell morphology and apoptosis. To elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) of the growth inhibition by the CRE-decoy oligonucleotide, we investigated the p53 signaling pathway. Herein, we report that CRE-decoy oligonucleotide treatment results in an increase in the p53 protein level in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells that express wild-type p53. The p21WAF1/Cip1 protein levels were also increased in the CRE-decoy oligonucleotide treated cells accompanying a reduction in Cdk2- and cyclin E- dependent kinase activity and pRb phosphorylation. Pulse-chase experiments reveal that the p53 upregulation was due to increased stability of the protein. The decoy oligonucleotide treatment also enhanced the p53 promotor- directed transcription in vivo along with the increase in p53-CBP (CREB- binding protein) complex formation. Thus, the stabilization and activation of p53 may have contributed to the growth inhibition induced by CRE- transcription factor decoy oligonucleotide in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. This decoy oligonucleotide approach offers great promise as a tool for defining cellular regulatory processes and treating cancer and other diseases.
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