The p53-Bak apoptotic signaling axis plays an essential role in regulating differentiation of the ocular lens

M. Deng, P. Chen, F. Liu, S. Fu, H. Tang, Y. Fu, Z. Xiong, S. Hui, W. Ji, X. Zhang, L. Zhang, L. Gong, X. Hu, W. Hu, S. Sun, J. Liu, L. Xiao, W. B. Liu, Y. M. Xiao, S. J. LiuY. Liu, D. W.C. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


The tumor suppressor p53 is a master regulator of apoptosis and also plays a key role in cell cycle checking. In our previous studies, we demonstrated that p53 directly regulates Bak in mouse JB6 cells (Qin et al. 2008. Cancer Research. 68(11):4150) and that p53-Bak signaling axis plays an important role in mediating EGCG-induced apoptosis. Here, we demonstrate that the same p53-Bak apoptotic signaling axis executes an essential role in regulating lens cell differentiation. First, during mouse lens development, p53 is expressed and differentially phosphorylated at different residues. Associated with p53 expression, Bak is also significantly expressed during mouse lens development. Second, human p53 directly regulates Bak promoter and Bak expression in p53 knockout mice (p53-/-) was significantly downregulated. Third, during in vitro bFGF-induced lens cell differentiation, knockdown of p53 or Bak leads to significant inhibition of lens cell differentiation. Fourth, besides the major distribution of Bak in cytoplasm, it is also localized in the nucleus in normal lens or bFGF-induced differentiating lens cells. Finally, p53 and Bak are co-localized in both cytoplasm and nucleus, and their interaction regulates the stability of p53. Together, these results demonstrate for the first time that the p53-Bak apoptotic signaling axis plays an essential role in regulating lens differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-916
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent Molecular Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 27 2012



  • Apoptosis
  • Bak
  • Cataract
  • Cell differentiation
  • Gene expression
  • Lens
  • p53
  • Signaling pathway
  • Transcription regulation
  • Tumor suppressor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology

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