DNA-damaging agents induce a p53-dependent G1 arrest that may be critical for p53-mediated tumor suppression. It has been suggested that p21WAF1/CIP1, a cdk inhibitory protein transcriptionally regulated by p53, is an effector of this arrest. To test this hypothesis, an isogenic set of human colon adenocarcinoma cell lines differing only in their p21 status was created. The parental cell line underwent the expected cell cycle changes upon induction of p53 expression by DNA damage, but the G1 arrest was completely abrogated in p21-deficient cells. These results unambiguously establish p21 as a critical mediator of one well-documented p53 function and have important implications for understanding cell cycle checkpoints and the mechanism(s) through which p53 inhibits human neoplasia.

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This work was supported by NIH Grants CA43460 and GM07184. B. V. is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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