Many DNA tumor viruses express a protein that inhibits transcriptional activation by the tumor-suppressing transcription factor p53. We report that adenovirus E1B 55K represses p53-mediated activation by a mechanism not described previously. E1B 55K binds p53 without displacing it from its DNA-binding site. A fusion of E1B 55K to the GAL4 DNA-binding domain represses transcription from a variety of promoters with engineered upstream GAL4-binding sites. Mutations within E1B 55K that interfere with its transforming activity and its ability to inhibit p53-mediated trans-activation also interfere with transcriptional repression by the GAL4-55K fusion. These results demonstrate that E1B 55K functions as a direct transcriptional repressor that is targeted to p53-responsive genes by binding to p53.
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