PHILADELPHIA - The innocuously named protein p53 is among the most vital of molecules for regulating cell growth in the human body, and it represents one of the body's leading defenses against the uncontrolled growth of cancers as a result. Damaged variants of the tumor-suppressor p53 protein have been found in more than half of human cancers. Now, in a new study, researchers at The Wistar Institute have identified a carefully orchestrated series of molecular modifications to p53 that must occur for it to perform its normal function, which is to initiate the transcription of genes involved in growth control. The findings give a clearer picture of the system in which p53 is a central player and may suggest new ways to combat an array of cancers in which p53 is dysfunctional. More generally, the study begins to show how many other proteins that act directly on DNA, as p53 does, might also be tightly managed by similar sets of closely interacting molecules. A report on the research appears in the December issue of Molecular Cell, published today.
The above story is based on materials provided by Wistar Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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