The p53 protein is mutated in about 50% of human cancers. Aside from losing the tumor-suppressive functions of the wild-type form, mutant p53 proteins often acquire inherent, novel oncogenic functions, a phenomenon termed mutant p53 gain-of-function (GOF). A growing body of evidence suggests that these pro-oncogenic functions of mutant p53 proteins are mediated by affecting the transcription of various genes, as well as by protein–protein interactions with transcription factors and other effectors. In the current review, we discuss the various GOF effects of mutant p53, and how it may serve as a central node in a network of genes and proteins, which, altogether, promote the tumorigenic process. Finally, we discuss mechanisms by which “Mother Nature” tries to abrogate the pro-oncogenic functions of mutant p53. Thus, we suggest that targeting mutant p53, via its reactivation to the wild-type form, may serve as a promising therapeutic strategy for many cancers that harbor mutant p53. Not only will this strategy abrogate mutant p53 GOF, but it will also restore WT p53 tumor-suppressive functions.
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