p53 protein, the central molecule of the apoptosis pathway, is mutated in 50% of the human cancers. Of late, p53 homologues have been identified from different invertebrates including Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Squid, and Clams. We report the identification of a p53-like protein in Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) insect cells, which is activated during oxidative stress, caused by exposure to UV-B or H2O2, and binds to p53 consensus DNA binding motifs as well as other p53 cognate motifs. Sf9 p53 motif-binding protein is similar to murine and Drosophila p53 in terms of molecular size, which is around 50–60 kDa, as evident from UV cross-linking, and displays DNA binding characteristics similar to both insect and vertebrate p53 as seen from electrophoretic mobility shift assays. The N-terminal sequencing of the purified Sf9 p53 motif-binding protein reveals extensive homology to the pro-apoptotic FK-506 binding protein (FKBP-46), earlier identified in Sf9 cells as a factor which interacts with murine casein kinase. FKBP, an evolutionarily conserved protein of mammalian origin functions as a pro-apoptotic factor. Identification of FKBP-46 as a novel p53 motif-binding protein in insect cells adds a new facet to our understanding of the mechanisms of apoptosis under oxidative stress in the absence of a typical p53 homologue. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 899–907, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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