The tumor suppressor p53
is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancers. Most of the mutations are missense leading to loss of p53 function in inducing apoptosis and senescence. In addition to these autonomous effects of p53
inactivation/dysfunction on tumorigenesis, compelling evidence suggests that p53
mutation/inactivation also leads to gain-of-function or activation of non-autonomous pathways, which either directly or indirectly promote tumorigenesis. Experimental and clinical results suggest that p53
dysfunction fuels pro-tumor inflammation and serves as an immunological gain-of-function driver of tumorigenesis via skewing immune landscape of the tumor microenvironment (TME). It is now increasingly appreciated that p53
dysfunction in various cellular compartments of the TME leads to immunosuppression and immune evasion. Although our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes that link p53 activity to host immune regulation is still incomplete, it is clear that activating/reactivating the p53 pathway in the TME also represents a compelling immunological strategy to reverse immunosuppression and enhance antitumor immunity. Here, we review our current understanding of the potential cellular and molecular mechanisms by which p53 participates in immune regulation and discuss how targeting the p53 pathway can be exploited to alter the immunological landscape of tumors for maximizing therapeutic outcome.
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