Cellular senescence, a term originally used to define the characteristics of normal human fibroblasts that reached their replicative limit, is an important factor for ageing, age-related diseases including cancer, and cell reprogramming. These outcomes are mediated by senescence-associated changes in gene expressions, which sometimes lead to the secretion of pro-inflammatory factors, or senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) that contribute to paradoxical pro-tumorigenic effects. p53 functions as a transcription factor in cell-autonomous responses such as cell-cycle control, DNA repair, apoptosis, and cellular senescence, and also non-cell-autonomous responses to DNA damage by mediating the SASP function of immune system activation. The human TP53
gene encodes twelve protein isoforms, which provides an explanation for the pleiotropic p53 function on cellular senescence. Recent reports suggest that some short isoforms of p53 may modulate gene expressions in a full-length p53-dependent and -independent manner, in other words, some p53 isoforms cooperate with full-length p53, whereas others operate independently. This review summarizes our current knowledge about the biological activities and functions of p53 isoforms, especially Δ40p53, Δ133p53α, and p53β, on cellular senescence, ageing, age-related disorder, reprogramming, and cancer. Numerous cellular and animal model studies indicate that an unbalance in p53 isoform expression in specific cell types causes age-related disorders such as cancer, premature ageing, and degenerative diseases.
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