Aberrant transcriptional repression through chromatin remodeling and histone deacetylation has been postulated as the driving force for tumorigenesis. FBI-1 (formerly called Pokemon) is a member of the POK family of transcriptional repressors. Recently, FBI-1 was characterized as a critical oncogenic factor that specifically represses transcription of the tumor suppressor gene ARF, potentially leading indirectly to p53 inactivation. Our investigations on transcriptional repression of the p53 pathway revealed that FBI-1 represses transcription of ARF, Hdm2 (human analogue of mouse double minute oncogene), and p21CIP1 (hereafter indicated as p21) but not of p53. FBI-1 showed a more potent repressive effect on p21 than on p53. Our data suggested that FBI-1 is a master controller of the ARF-Hdm2-p53-p21 pathway, ultimately impinging on cell cycle arrest factor p21, by inhibiting upstream regulators at the transcriptional and protein levels. FBI-1 acted as a competitive transcriptional repressor of p53 and Sp1 and was shown to bind the proximal Sp1-3 GC-box and the distal p53-responsive elements of p21. Repression involved direct binding competition of FBI-1 with Sp1 and p53. FBI-1 also interacted with corepressors, such as mSin3A, NCoR, and SMRT, thereby deacetylating Ac-H3 and Ac-H4 histones at the promoter. FBI-1 caused cellular transformation, promoted cell cycle proliferation, and significantly increased the number of cells in S phase. FBI-1 is aberrantly overexpressed in many human solid tumors, particularly in adenocarcinomas and squamous carcinomas. The role of FBI-1 as a master controller of the p53 pathway therefore makes it an attractive therapeutic target.
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