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Human cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2A6 enzyme has been proposed to play a role in cellular defence against chemical-induced oxidative stress. The encoding gene is regulated by various stress activated transcription factors. This paper demonstrates that p53 is a novel transcriptional regulator of the gene. Sequence analysis of the CYP2A6 promoter revealed six putative p53 binding sites in a 3 kb proximate promoter region. The site closest to transcription start site (TSS) is highly homologous with the p53 consensus sequence. Transfection with various stepwise deletions of CYP2A6-5′-Luc constructs – down to − 160 bp from the TSS – showed p53 responsiveness in p53 overexpressed C3A cells. However, a further deletion from − 160 to − 74 bp, including the putative p53 binding site, totally abolished the p53 responsiveness. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay with a probe containing the putative binding site showed specific binding of p53. A point mutation at the binding site abolished both the binding and responsiveness of the recombinant gene to p53. Up-regulation of the endogenous p53 with benzo[α]pyrene – a well-known p53 activator – increased the expression of the p53 responsive positive control and the CYP2A6-5′-Luc construct containing the intact p53 binding site but not the mutated CYP2A6-5′-Luc construct. Finally, inducibility of the native CYP2A6 gene by benzo[α]pyrene was demonstrated by dose-dependent increases in CYP2A6 mRNA and protein levels along with increased p53 levels in the nucleus. Collectively, the results indicate that p53 protein is a regulator of the CYP2A6 gene in C3A cells and further support the putative cytoprotective role of CYP2A6.CYP2A6 is an immediate target gene of p53.Six putative p53REs located on 3 kb proximate CYP2A6 promoter region.The region − 160 bp from TSS is highly homologous with the p53 consensus sequence.P53 specifically bind to the p53RE on the − 160 bp region.HNF4α may interact with p53 in regulating CYP2A6 expression.