Although genetic studies have demonstrated that MDMX is essential to maintain p53 activity at low levels in non-stressed cells, it is unknown whether MDMX regulates p53 activation by DNA damage. We show here that DNA damage-induced p53 induction is associated with rapid down-regulation of the MDMX protein. Significantly, interference with MDMX down-regulation results in the suppression of p53 activation by genotoxic stress. We also demonstrate that DNA damage-induced MDMX reduction is mediated by MDM2, which targets MDMX for proteasomal degradation by a distinct mechanism that permits preferential MDMX degradation and therefore ensures optimal p53 activation.
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