The p53 tumor suppressor exerts anti-proliferative effects in response to various types of stress including DNA damage and abnormal proliferative signals. Tight regulation of p53 is essential for maintaining normal cell growth and this occurs primarily through posttranslational modifications of p53. Here, we describe Pirh2, a gene regulated by p53 that encodes a RING-H2 domain-containing protein with intrinsic ubiquitin-protein ligase activity. Pirh2 physically interacts with p53 and promotes ubiquitination of p53 independently of Mdm2. Expression of Pirh2 decreases the level of p53 protein and abrogation of endogenous Pirh2 expression increases the level of p53. Furthermore, Pirh2 represses p53 functions including p53-dependent transactivation and growth inhibition. We propose that Pirh2 is involved in the negative regulation of p53 function through physical interaction and ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. Hence, Pirh2, like Mdm2, participates in an autoregulatory feedback loop that controls p53 function.
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