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Identification of functional DNA variants in the constitutive promoter region of MDM2

Marie-Eve Lalonde1, Manon Ouimet1, Mathieu Larivière1, Ekaterini A Kritikou1 and Daniel Sinnett12*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Hematology-Oncology, Research Center, Sainte-Justine Hospital, 3175 Chemin de la Cote-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, H3T 1C5, Canada

2 Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC H3T 1C5, Canada

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Human Genomics 2012, 6:15  doi:10.1186/1479-7364-6-15

Published: 1 September 2012


Although mutations in the oncoprotein murine double minute 2 (MDM2) are rare, MDM2 gene overexpression has been observed in several human tumors. Given that even modest changes in MDM2 levels might influence the p53 tumor suppressor signaling pathway, we postulated that sequence variation in the promoter region of MDM2 could lead to disregulated expression and variation in gene dosage. Two promoters have been reported for MDM2; an internal promoter (P2), which is located near the end of intron 1 and is p53-responsive, and an upstream constitutive promoter (P1), which is p53-independent. Both promoter regions contain DNA variants that could influence the expression levels of MDM2, including the well-studied single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) SNP309, which is located in the promoter P2; i.e., upstream of exon 2. In this report, we screened the promoter P1 for DNA variants and assessed the functional impact of the corresponding SNPs. Using the dbSNP database and genotyping validation in individuals of European descent, we identified three common SNPs (−1494 G > A; indel 40 bp; and −182 C > G). Three major promoter haplotypes were inferred by using these three promoter SNPs together with rs2279744 (SNP309). Following subcloning into a gene reporter system, we found that two of the haplotypes significantly influenced MDM2 promoter activity in a haplotype-specific manner. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments indicated that the 40 bp insertion/deletion variation is causing the observed allelic promoter activity. This study suggests that part of the variability in the MDM2 expression levels could be explained by allelic p53-independent P1 promoter activity.

MDM2; SNP; Promoter analysis; Functional validation; Site-directed mutagenesis