Human rpL3 induces G1/S arrest or apoptosis by modulating p21waf1/cip1 levels in a p53-independent manner

Annapina Russo, Davide Esposito, Morena Catillo, Concetta Pietropaolo, Elvira Crescenzi, Giulia Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


It is now largely accepted that ribosomal proteins may be implicated in a variety of biological functions besides that of components of the translation machinery. Many evidences show that a subset of ribosomal proteins are involved in the regulation of the cell cycle and apoptosis through modulation of p53 activity. In addition, p53-independent mechanisms of cell cycle arrest in response to alterations of ribosomal proteins availability have been described. Here, we identify human rpL3 as a new regulator of cell cycle and apoptosis through positive regulation of p21 expression in a p53-independent system. We demonstrate that the rpL3-mediated p21 upregulation requires the specific interaction between rpL3 and Sp1. Furthermore, in our experimental system, p21 overexpression leads to a dual outcome, activating the G1/S arrest of the cell cycle or the apoptotic pathway through mitochondria, depending on its intracellular levels. It is noteworthy that depletion of p21 abrogates both effects. Taken together, our findings unravel a novel extraribosomal function of rpL3 and reinforce the proapoptotic role of p21 in addition to its widely reported ability as an inhibitor of cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle
  • Extraribosomal function
  • Ribosomal protein
  • RpL3
  • SP1
  • p21


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