The Double Role of p53 in Cancer and Autoimmunity and Its Potential as Therapeutic Target

Alessandra Fierabracci, Marsha Pellegrino

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p53 is a sequence-specific short-lived transcription factor expressed at low concentrations in various tissues while it is upregulated in damaged, tumoral or inflamed tissue. In normally proliferating cells, p53 protein levels and function are tightly controlled by main regulators, i.e., MDM2 (mouse double minute 2) and MDM4 proteins. p53 plays an important role due to its ability to mediate tumor suppression. In addition to its importance as a tumor suppressor, p53 coordinates diverse cellular responses to stress and damage and plays an emerging role in various physiological processes, including fertility, cell metabolism, mitochondrial respiration, autophagy, cell adhesion, stem cell maintenance and development. Interestingly, it has been recently implicated in the suppression of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in both mice and humans. In this review based on current knowledge on the functional properties of p53 and its regulatory pathways, we discuss the potential utility of p53 reactivation from a therapeutic perspective in oncology and chronic inflammatory disorders leading to autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 25 2016


  • Review
  • Journal Article

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