p73 is a member of the p53-family of transcription factors (p73, p53 and p63). A truncated form of p73 (ΔNp73) also exists that lacks the transcriptional activation domain and inhibits both p53 & p73. However, ΔNp73 transcripts have not been reported in normal tissues or peripheral blood. We now show for the first time that ΔNp73 mRNA and protein are not present in quiescent (G0), primary human T cells but are induced post the G0→G1 cell cycle commitment point following stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 or PMA/ionomycin. The ΔNp73 transcript could be produced either by activation of a promoter in intron 3 or from the 5′ P1 promoter by alternative splicing. Bisulfite sequencing shows that the intron 3 promoter is hypermethylated in T cells in G0 and throughout the cell cycle while the 5′ P1 promoter remains largely unmethylated. 5′-RACE results with quiescent and stimulated T cells verify that ΔNp73 transcripts originate from the P1 promoter. Additionally, RT-PCR analyses show that the transcript originating from the P1 promoter is present in G0 and mature ΔNp73 mRNA is produced by cell cycle-dependent splicing during the G0→G1 transition. We investigated the function of ΔNp73 during G0→G1 by inhibiting its induction with two different siRNAs. Microarray analyses show that expression of mRNA encoding a number of cell cycle regulators like E2F1, TCFL2 and CDT1 during G0→G1 are dependent on ΔNp73 and ΔNp73 represses the expression of the pro-apoptotic PUMA, a known p73 target. We conclude that ΔNp73 is produced in normal, human T cells during cell cycle entry and regulates normal gene expression. Moreover, the intron 3 promoter is hypermethylated, the ΔNp73 transcript originates at the P1 promoter and ΔNp73 mRNA is produced by cell cycle-dependent splicing.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.