We have shown previously that cytoplasmic p53 is covalently linked to 5.8S rRNA. The covalent complex is associated with a small subset of polyribosomes, which includes polyribosomes translating p53 mRNA. Because 5.8S rRNA resides in or near the ribosomal P site, our findings suggested involvement of p53 in translational regulation. Ninety-seven kiloDaltons eEF2 was found to coimmunoprecipitate in a salt-stable complex with p53. The 97 kDa species was identified as eEF2, because it was (1) recognized by a polyclonal antiserum specific for eEF2, (2) ADP-ribosylated by diphtheria toxin (DT), and (3) radiolabeled by gamma-32P-azido-GTP and UV-irradiation. p53 and eEF2 sedimented in sucrose gradients in both polyribosomal and subribosomal fractions. Subribosomal p53 can bind eEF2 without the mediation of ribosomes, because (1) it binds subribososomal eEF2, (2) it binds phosphorylated eEF2, and (3) subribosomal p53-bound eEF2 can be ADP-ribosylated by DT. No effect of p53 activation was found on eEF2 expression or phosphorylation. However, the binding of eEF2 to p53 decreased when cytoplasmic p53 migrated to the nucleus. Renaturation of temperature sensitive A135V mutant p53 (ts-p53) was found to alter the sensitivity of p53 mRNA translation, but not bulk mRNA translation, to the translocation-specific elongation inhibitor, cycloheximide (Cx). The association of p53 with two translational components involved in ribosomal translocation, eEF2 and 5.8S rRNA, and the effect of p53 on sensitivity to the translocation inhibitor, Cx, as well as the known molecular interactions of these components in the ribosome suggest involvement of p53 in elongation.
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