The tumor suppressor interferon regulatory factor 1 interferes with SP1 activation to repress the human CDK2 promoter

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Cell growth control by interferons (IFNs) involves up-regulation of the tumor suppressor interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1). To exert its anti-proliferative effects, this factor must ultimately control transcription of several key genes that regulate cell cycle progression. Here we show that the G1/S phase-related cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) gene is a novel proliferation-related downstream target of IRF1. We find that IRF1, but not IRF2, IRF3, or IRF7, selectively represses CDK2 gene transcription in a dose- and time-dependent manner. We delineate the IRF1-responsive repressor element between nt -68 to -31 of the CDK2 promoter. For comparison, the tumor suppressor p53 represses CDK2 promoter activity independently of IRF1 through sequences upstream of nt -68, and the CDP/cut/Cux1 homeodomain protein represses transcription down-stream of -31. Thus, IRF1 repression represents one of three distinct mechanisms to attenuate CDK2 levels. The -68/-31 segment lacks a canonical IRF responsive element but contains a single SP1 binding site. Mutation of this element abrogates SP1-dependent enhancement of CDK2 promoter activity as expected but also abolishes IRF1-mediated repression. Forced elevation of SP1 levels increases endogenous CDK2 levels, whereas IRF1 reduces both endogenous SP1 and CDK2 protein levels. Hence, IRF1 represses CDK2 gene expression by interfering with SP1-dependent transcriptional activation. Our findings establish a causal series of events that functionally connect the anti-proliferative effects of interferons with the IRF1-dependent suppression of the CDK2 gene, which encodes a key regulator of the G1/S phase transition.

DOI of Published Version



J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 18;278(29):26589-96. Epub 2003 May 5. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of biological chemistry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID