Members of the ING family of type II tumor suppressors reside in different chromatin regulatory complexes and are stoichiometeric members of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) complexes. It has been frequently observed that expressing ING proteins promotes apoptosis in both normal and transformed cells of different species. They have also been reported to either rely upon p53, or to add to its ability to promote programmed cell death (apoptosis) although whether ING proteins require p53 to induce apoptosis is now questionable based upon observations using knockout cell lines and animal models. Genetic studies in model organisms, and particularly in Caenorhabditis elegans, have identified different pathways involved in apoptosis during development, in the germ line and in response to various forms of stress including DNA damage. In this review we summarize structural features of the INGs and recent observations made in knockout models of Mus musculus and Caenorhabditis elegans that have helped to further clarify the functions of the ING proteins in biochemical pathways leading to apoptosis. Based upon these observations we propose a model for how ING proteins may act both independently and in concert with p53 to promote apoptosis.
Keywords: ING1, ING3, apoptosis, p53, model system
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