p53 directly regulates αA- and βA3/A1-crystallin genes to modulate lens differentiation

W. K. Ji, X. C. Tang, M. Yi, P. Q. Chen, F. Y. Liu, X. H. Hu, W. F. Hu, S. J. Fu, J. F. Liu, K. L. Wu, M. X. Wu, X. L. Liu, L. X. Luo, S. Huang, Z. Z. Liu, M. B. Yu, Y. Z. Liu, D. W.C. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


It is well established that the tumor suppressor p53 plays major roles in regulating apoptosis and cell cycle progression. In addition, recent studies have demonstrated that p53 is actively involved in regulating cell differentiation in muscle, the circulatory system and various carcinoma tissues. We have recently shown that p53 also controls lens differentiation. Regarding the mechanism, we reveal that p53 directly regulates c-Maf and Prox1, two important transcription factors to control cell differentiation in the ocular lens. In the present study, we present further evidence to show that p53 can regulate lens differentiation by controlling expression of the differentiation genes coding for the lens crystallins. First, the αA and βA3/A1 gene promoters or introns all contain putative p53 binding sites. Second, gel mobility shifting assays revealed that the p53 protein in nuclear extracts from lens epithelial cells directly binds to the p53 binding sites found in these crystallin gene promoters or introns. Third, exogenous wild type p53 induces dose-dependent expression of the luciferase reporter gene driven by different crystallin gene promoters and the exogenous dominant negative mutant p53 causes dose-dependent inhibition of the same crystallin genes. Fourth, ChIP assays revealed that p53 binds to crystallin gene promoters in vivo. Finally, in the p53 knockout mouse lenses, expression levels of various crystallins were found down-regulated in comparison with those from the wild type mouse lenses. Together, our results reveal that p53 directly regulates expression of different sets of genes to control lens differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-978
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Molecular Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • AlphaA-crystallin
  • BetaA3/A1-crystallin
  • Cell differentiation
  • Eye development
  • Gene expression
  • Gene regulation
  • Lens
  • P53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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