UTX is known as a general factor that activates gene transcription during development. Here, we demonstrate an additional essential role of UTX in the DNA damage response, in which it upregulates the expression of ku80 in Drosophila, both in cultured cells and in third instar larvae. We further showed that UTX mediates the expression of ku80 by the demethylation of H3K27me3 at the ku80 promoter upon exposure to ionizing radiation (IR) in a p53-dependent manner. UTX interacts physically with p53, and both UTX and p53 are recruited to the ku80 promoter following IR exposure in an interdependent manner. In contrast, the loss of utx has little impact on the expression of ku70, mre11, hid and reaper, suggesting the specific regulation of ku80 expression by UTX. Thus, our findings further elucidate the molecular function of UTX.