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May 2008 Trends in cell biology

The impact of p53 and p73 on aneuploidy and cancer.


Tomasini R, Mak TW, Melino G


Initiation, progression and evasion are sequential steps in cancer formation, with autonomous cell proliferation as a final outcome. Genetic or epigenetic alterations of key regulatory genes of the cell cycle are frequently associated with these phenomena. Recently, chromosomal instability, a long-supposed driving force of tumorigenesis, was associated with dysregulation of mitotic genes, providing advantages to tumor cells. Numerous molecules thus provide a key link in the chain of relationships between chromosomal instability and cancer. Here, we discuss emerging evidence revealing that two p53 family members, p53 and p73, might be key regulatory genes at the heart of the relationship between chromosomal instability and cancer. We argue that the role of members of the p53 family as tumor suppressor proteins, their impact on the control of cellular ploidy, and their newly emerging connection with mitotic checkpoint regulatory genes support the suggestion that p73 and p53 could be two of the missing links among chromosomal instability, the mitotic checkpoint and cancer.

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