c-myb, a protooncogene prevalently expressed in the hematopoietic tissue, is a transcription factor that contains a DNA-binding domain and an acidic domain and is able to transactivate specific viral and cellular genes. In this report, we show that c-myb can stimulate apoptosis in both the murine promyelocytic 32D and the human osteosarcoma SAOS2 cell lines when coexpressed with p53. Apoptosis is accompanied by increased transactivation of the cell death-associated BAX gene. This effect is c-myb specific, because B-myb is not able to cooperate with p53 in the induction of BAX transcription and apoptosis. Immunoprecipitation studies and gel shift analysis indicate that c-myb does not directly interact with the BAX promoter or the p53 protein but, rather, cooperates through an indirect mechanism. Consistent with the existence of a functional link between c-myb and p53, we also observed that c-myb represses p53-induced activation of the WAF-1 promoter and induces proliferation of SAOS2 cells growth arrested by p53. These results might contribute to the elucidation of the mechanisms underlying p53-dependent pathways of oncogene-induced apoptosis and provide a further example of DNA-binding independent myb activity.

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