Cell division

The T-box transcription factor TBX3 drives proliferation by direct repression of the p21(WAF1) cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor.

PMID 27110270


TBX3, a member of the T-box family of transcription factors, is essential in development and has emerged as an important player in the oncogenic process. TBX3 is overexpressed in several cancers and has been shown to contribute directly to tumour formation, migration and invasion. However, little is known about the molecular basis for its role in development and oncogenesis because there is a paucity of information regarding its target genes. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21(WAF1) plays a pivotal role in a myriad of processes including cell cycle arrest, senescence and apoptosis and here we provide a detailed mechanism to show that it is a direct and biologically relevant target of TBX3. Using a combination of luciferase reporter gene assays and in vitro and in vivo binding assays we show that TBX3 directly represses the p21(WAF1) promoter by binding a T-element close to its initiator. Furthermore, we show that the TBX3 DNA binding domain is required for the transcriptional repression of p21(WAF1) and that pseudo-phosphorylation of a serine proline motif (S190) located within this domain may play an important role in regulating this ability. Importantly, we demonstrate using knockdown and overexpression experiments that p21(WAF1) repression by TBX3 is biologically significant and required for TBX3-induced cell proliferation of chondrosarcoma cells. Results from this study provide a detailed mechanism of how TBX3 transcriptionally represses p21(WAF1) which adds to our understanding of how it may contribute to oncogenesis.