Mutation at Ser392 specifically sensitizes mutant p53H175 to mdm2-mediated degradation.
Gillotin S., Yap D., Lu X.
Mdm2 is one of the main E3 ubiquitin ligases, which targets both wild type and mutant p53 for degradation. The ability of post-translational modifications, such as phosphorylation, to modulate the function and stability of wild type p53 has been extensively studied. However, their ability to modulate the functions and stability of mutant forms of p53 remains poorly documented. Here we show, for the first time, that the stability of mutant p53 can be regulated by phosphorylation. Mutation of serine 392 to alanine shortens the half life of p53H175, and renders p53H175A392 more sensitive to mdm2-mediated degradation than p53H175. This effect of Ser392 phosphorylation specifically affects p53H175, a misfolded mutant, and does not affect p53W248 which maintains a native conformation. Detailed analysis subsequently showed that the reduced stability of p53H175A392 is not due to an increase in mdm2/p300 binding or polyubiquitin chain formation, uncoupling the extent of polyubiquitin chain formation and the stability of mutant p53. This is supported by the observation that Ser392 mutation enhances polyubiquitin chain formation on p53W248, without reducing its stability. These results suggest that the inhibition of phosphorylation at Ser392 of p53, together with the use of an mdm2-enhancing agent such as nutlin, could present a new therapeutic strategy with which to treat tumors expressing mutant p53H175.