Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology



First Thesis Advisor

Stephen Jones, PhD


Tumor Suppressor Protein p53, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2, DNA Damage, Phosphorylation


Dissertations, UMMS; Tumor Suppressor Protein p53; Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2; DNA Damage; Phosphorylation


The p53 tumor suppressor protein is upregulated in response to DNA damage and other stress signals. The upregulation of p53 involves freeing it from negative regulation imposed by Mdm2 and MdmX (Mdm4). Accumulating evidence indicates that phosphorylation of Mdm proteins by different stress-activated kinases such as ATM or c-Abl significantly impacts p53 functions. We have previously shown that ATM phosphorylation of Mdm2 Ser394 is required for robust p53 stabilization and activation following DNA damage.

This dissertation describes in vivo examination of the mechanism by which Mdm2 Ser394 phosphorylation impacts p53 activities and its contribution to suppression of oncogene and DNA damage-induced tumors. We determine that phosphorylation of Mdm2 Ser394 regulates p53 activity by modulating Mdm2 stability and paradoxically delays Myc-driven lymphomagenesis while increasing lymphomagenesis in sub-lethally irradiated mice. c-Abl phosphorylates the residue neighboring Mdm2 Ser394, Mdm2 Tyr393.

This dissertation describes the generation of a novel Mdm2Y393F mutant mouse to determine if c-Abl phosphorylation of Mdm2 regulates p53-mediated DNA damage responses or tumor suppression in vivo. Mdm2Y393F mice develop accelerated spontaneous and oncogene-induced tumors, yet display no defects in p53 stabilization and activity following acute genotoxic stress. Furthermore, the effects of these phosphorylation events on p53 regulation are not additive, as Mdm2Y393F/S394A mice and Mdm2S394A mice display similar phenotypes.

The studies presented herein further our understanding of the mechanisms by which DNA damage-associated kinases stabilize and activate p53, and influence p53-dependent responses and tumor suppression. A better understanding of the in vivo effects of Mdm2 phosphorylation may facilitate the development of novel therapeutics capable of stimulating p53 anti-tumor activity or alleviating p53- dependent toxicities in non-malignant tissues.



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