All known members of the p53 gene family, including the two homologs p73 and p63, have multiple biological functions. In neurons, p53 and p73 are known to regulate cell death in the developing and adult nervous system. A report by Jacobs et al. in this issue of Neuron shows that the more ancestral member of this gene family, p63, is an essential proapoptotic protein during neuronal development.
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