DJ-1, originally identified as an oncogene product, is a protein with various functions in cellular transformation, oxidative stress response, and transcriptional regulation. Although previous studies suggest that DJ-1 is cytoprotective, the mechanism by which DJ-1 exerts its survival functions remains largely unknown. Here we show that DJ-1 exerts its cytoprotection through inhibiting p53-Bax-caspase pathway. DJ-1 interacts with p53 in vitro and in vivo. Overexpression of DJ-1 decreases the expression of Bax and inhibits caspase activation, whereas knockdown of DJ-1 increases Bax protein levels and accelerates caspase-3 activation and cell death induced by UV exposure. Our data provide evidence that the protective effects of DJ-1 on apoptosis are associated with its ability of decreasing Bax level through inhibiting p53 transcriptional activity.
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