Baozong Li

Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL, United States

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Publications (6)29.9 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: MDM2 is a major regulator of p53 by acting as a ubiquitin E3 ligase. The central acidic domain and C-terminal RING domain of MDM2 are both indispensable for ubiquitination of p53. Our previous study suggested that ATM phosphorylation of MDM2 near the C terminus inhibits RING domain oligomerization, resulting in p53 stabilization after DNA damage. We present here evidence that these modifications allosterically regulate the functions of both acidic domain and RING domain of MDM2. Using chemical cross-linking, we show that the MDM2 RING domain forms oligomers including dimer and higher-order complexes in vivo. RING domain dimerization efficiency is negatively regulated by upstream sequence. ATM-mediated phosphorylation of the upstream sequence further inhibits RING dimerization. Forced oligomerization of MDM2 partially overcomes the inhibitory effect of phosphorylation and stimulates p53 ubiquitination. Furthermore, the ability of MDM2 acidic domain to bind p53 core domain and induce p53 misfolding are also suppressed by the same C-terminal ATM sites after DNA damage. These results suggest that the acidic domain and RING domain of MDM2 are both allosterically coupled to the intervening ATM sites, which enables the same modification to regulate multiple MDM2 functions critical for p53 ubiquitination.
    Molecular and cellular biology 12/2011; 31(24):4951-63. · 6.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: MDM2 regulates p53 predominantly by promoting p53 ubiquitination. However, ubiquitination-independent mechanisms of MDM2 have also been implicated. Here we show that MDM2 inhibits p53 DNA binding activity in vitro and in vivo. MDM2 binding promotes p53 to adopt a mutant-like conformation, losing reactivity to antibody Pab1620, while exposing the Pab240 epitope. The acidic domain of MDM2 is required to induce p53 conformational change and inhibit p53 DNA binding. Alternate reading frame binding to the MDM2 acidic domain restores p53 wild type conformation and rescues DNA binding activity. Furthermore, histone methyl transferase SUV39H1 binding to the MDM2 acidic domain also restores p53 wild type conformation and allows p53-MDM2-SUV39H1 complex to bind DNA. These results provide further evidence for an ubiquitination-independent mechanism of p53 regulation by MDM2 and reveal how MDM2-interacting repressors gain access to p53 target promoters and repress transcription. Furthermore, we show that the MDM2 inhibitor Nutlin cooperates with the proteasome inhibitor Bortezomib by stimulating p53 DNA binding and transcriptional activity, providing a rationale for combination therapy using proteasome and MDM2 inhibitors.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2011; 286(18):16018-29. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT) are unique in their excellent response to DNA-damaging chemotherapy. Mutation of p53 is rare in both untreated and relapsed TGCTs, suggesting that p53 fails to respond effectively against malignant transformation in germ cells. Previous studies implicated the presence of a poorly defined TGCT-specific mechanism of p53 inactivation. Here we show that disruption of p53-MDM2 binding using the MDM2-specific inhibitor Nutlin activates p53 in TGCT cells and is sufficient to induce strong apoptosis. Knockdown of MDMX cooperates with Nutlin to activate p53. Surprisingly, we found that p53 activation induced a two-fold increase in MDMX mRNA and protein expression in TGCT cells. A p53-responsive promoter is identified in MDMX intron 1 that contains a functional p53-binding site, suggesting that MDMX also functions as a negative feedback regulator of p53 in a cell line-dependent fashion. These findings suggest that MDM2 and MDMX are responsible for the functional inactivation of p53 in TGCT. Furthermore, TGCT cells are unique in having a strong apoptosis response to p53. Direct activation of p53 by targeting MDM2 and MDMX may provide a backup approach for the treatment of TGCTs resistant to DNA-damaging drugs.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 04/2010; 9(7):1411-20. · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: MDM2 and MDMX function as key regulators of p53 by binding to its N terminus, inhibiting its transcriptional activity, and promoting degradation. MDM2 and MDMX overexpression or hyperactivation directly contributes to the loss of p53 function during the development of nearly 50% of human cancers. Recent studies showed that disrupting p53-MDM2 and p53-MDMX interactions can lead to robust activation of p53 but also revealed a need to develop novel dual specific or MDMX-specific inhibitors. Using phage display we identified a 12-residue peptide (pDI) with inhibitory activity against MDM2 and MDMX. The co-crystal structures of the pDI and a single mutant derivative (pDI6W) liganded with the N-terminal domains of human MDMX and MDM2 served as the basis for the design of 11 distinct pDI-derivative peptides that were tested for inhibitory potential. The best derivative (termed pDIQ) contained four amino acid substitutions and exhibited a 5-fold increase in potency over the parent peptide against both MDM2 (IC(50) = 8 nm) and MDMX (IC(50) = 110 nm). Further structural studies revealed key molecular features enabling the high affinity binding of the pDIQ to these proteins. These include large conformational changes of the pDIQ to reach into a hydrophobic site unique to MDMX. The findings suggest new strategies toward the rational design of small molecule inhibitors efficiently targeting MDMX.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/2009; 285(3):2174-83. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The NAD-dependent deacetylase SirT1 regulates factors involved in stress response and cell survival and is a potential drug target of activators and inhibitors. Determination of SirT1 function in tumor cells is important for its targeting in cancer therapy. We found that SirT1 knockdown by short hairpin RNA accelerates tumor xenograft formation by HCT116 cells, whereas SirT1 overexpression inhibits tumor formation. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of SirT1 stimulates cell proliferation under conditions of growth factor deprivation. Paradoxically, SirT1 inhibition also sensitizes cells to apoptosis by chemotherapy drugs. Immunohistochemical staining revealed high level SirT1 in normal colon mucosa and benign adenomas. SirT1 overexpression was observed in ∼25% of stage I/II/III colorectal adenocarcinomas but rarely found in advanced stage IV tumors. Furthermore, ∼30% of carcinomas showed lower than normal SirT1 expression. This pattern is consistent with SirT1 having pleiotropic effects during cancer development (anti-proliferation and anti-apoptotic). These results suggest a rationale for the use of SirT1 activators and inhibitors in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2009; 284(27):18210-18217. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The NAD-dependent deacetylase SirT1 regulates factors involved in stress response and cell survival and is a potential drug target of activators and inhibitors. Determination of SirT1 function in tumor cells is important for its targeting in cancer therapy. We found that SirT1 knockdown by short hairpin RNA accelerates tumor xenograft formation by HCT116 cells, whereas SirT1 overexpression inhibits tumor formation. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of SirT1 stimulates cell proliferation under conditions of growth factor deprivation. Paradoxically, SirT1 inhibition also sensitizes cells to apoptosis by chemotherapy drugs. Immunohistochemical staining revealed high level SirT1 in normal colon mucosa and benign adenomas. SirT1 overexpression was observed in approximately 25% of stage I/II/III colorectal adenocarcinomas but rarely found in advanced stage IV tumors. Furthermore, approximately 30% of carcinomas showed lower than normal SirT1 expression. This pattern is consistent with SirT1 having pleiotropic effects during cancer development (anti-proliferation and anti-apoptotic). These results suggest a rationale for the use of SirT1 activators and inhibitors in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2009; 284(27):18210-7. · 4.65 Impact Factor