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Cancers 2011, 3(1), 994-1013; doi:10.3390/cancers3010994
Review

Role of p53 in Cell Death and Human Cancers

1
 and
2,*
1 Laboratory of Anti-tumor Research, Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute, 666-2 Nitona, Chuoh-ku, Chiba 260-8717, Japan 2 Division of Biochemistry and Laboratory of Innovative Cancer Therapeutics, Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute, 666-2 Nitona, Chuoh-ku, Chiba 260-8717, Japan
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 December 2010 / Revised: 22 February 2011 / Accepted: 22 February 2011 / Published: 3 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell Death and Cancer)
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Abstract

p53 is a nuclear transcription factor with a pro-apoptotic function. Since over 50% of human cancers carry loss of function mutations in p53 gene, p53 has been considered to be one of the classical type tumor suppressors. Mutant p53 acts as the dominant-negative inhibitor toward wild-type p53. Indeed, mutant p53 has an oncogenic potential. In some cases, malignant cancer cells bearing p53 mutations display a chemo-resistant phenotype. In response to a variety of cellular stresses such as DNA damage, p53 is induced to accumulate in cell nucleus to exert its pro-apoptotic function. Activated p53 promotes cell cycle arrest to allow DNA repair and/or apoptosis to prevent the propagation of cells with serious DNA damage through the transactivation of its target genes implicated in the induction of cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis. Thus, the DNA-binding activity of p53 is tightly linked to its tumor suppressive function. In the present review article, we describe the regulatory mechanisms of p53 and also p53-mediated therapeutic strategies to cure malignant cancers.
Keywords: apoptosis; DNA damage; p53 apoptosis; DNA damage; p53
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Ozaki, T.; Nakagawara, A. Role of p53 in Cell Death and Human Cancers. Cancers 2011, 3, 994-1013.

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