The p53-dependent effects of macrophage migration inhibitory factor revealed by gene targeting.


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a mediator of host immunity and functions as a high, upstream activator of cells within the innate and the adaptive immunological systems. Recent studies have suggested a potentially broader role for MIF in growth regulation because of its ability to antagonize p53-mediated gene activation and apoptosis. To better understand MIF's activity in growth control, we generated and characterized a strain of MIF-knockout (MIF-KO) mice in the inbred, C57BL/6 background. Embryonic fibroblasts from MIF-KO mice exhibit p53-dependent growth alterations, increased p53 transcriptional activity, and resistance to ras-mediated transformation. Concurrent deletion of the p53 gene in vivo reversed the observed phenotype of cells deficient in MIF. In vivo studies showed that fibrosarcomas induced by the carcinogen benzo[alpha]pyrene are smaller in size and have a lower mitotic index in MIF-KO mice relative to their WT counterparts. The data provide direct genetic evidence for a functional link between MIF and the p53 tumor suppressor and indicate an important and previously unappreciated role for MIF in carcinogenesis.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A