Drosophila p53 directs nonapoptotic programs in postmitotic tissue

Paula Kurtz, Amanda E. Jones, Bhavana Tiwari, Nichole Link, Annika Wylie, Charles Tracy, Helmut Krämer, John M. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancers, and despite intensive research efforts, genome-scale studies of p53 function in whole animal models are rare. The need for such in vivo studies is underscored by recent challenges to established paradigms, indicating that unappreciated p53 functions contribute to cancer prevention. Here we leveraged the Drosophila system to interrogate p53 function in a postmitotic context. In the developing embryo, p53 robustly activates important apoptotic genes in response to radiation-induced DNA damage. We recently showed that a p53 enhancer (p53RErpr) near the cell death gene reaper forms chromatin contacts and enables p53 target activation across long genomic distances. Interestingly, we found that this canonical p53 apoptotic program fails to activate in adult heads. Moreover, this failure to exhibit apoptotic responses was not associated with altered chromatin contacts. Instead, we determined that p53 does not occupy the p53RErpr enhancer in this postmitotic tissue as it does in embryos. Through comparative RNA-seq and chromatin immunoprecipitation–seq studies of developing and postmitotic tissues, we further determined that p53 regulates distinct transcriptional programs in adult heads, including DNA repair, metabolism, and proteolysis genes. Strikingly, in the postmitotic context, p53-binding landscapes were poorly correlated with nearby transcriptional effects, raising the possibility that p53 enhancers could be generally acting through long distances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1339-1351
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Drosophila p53 directs nonapoptotic programs in postmitotic tissue'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this