"Guardian of the genome" (Lane, 1992), "Death star" (Vousden, 2000), "Good and bad cop" (Sharpless and DePinho, 2002), "An acrobat in tumorigenesis" (Moll and Schramm, 1998), are just a few of the names that have been attributed to the TP53 gene over recent years. The cameras (and funding) were certainly not present at the time of the discovery of p53 in 1979. It was only when the first alterations of the p53 gene in human cancers were discovered 10 years later, in 1989, that p53 started to become really popular, with the title of "molecule of the year" attributed by Science, in 1993 (Harris, 1993). This title was certainly justified, as the observation that more than one half of human cancers expressed a mutant p53 raised extensive clinical possibilities both for diagnosis and treatment. As always, during the rapid growth phase of a new field of investigation, great hopes were raised and the pharmaceutical industry became actively involved. Although, from a scientific point of view, research has clearly shown the importance of p53 signaling pathways in the surveillance of the cell after a stress, clinical applications are limited at the present time. 

These two sections of the p53 website provides historical information on TP53 as well as an acess to the p53 knowledge center with information and documents on the TP53 gene, its isoforms and the various pathways regulated by TP53. Information about the various members of the p53 family (TP73 and TP63) as well as MDM2 and MDMX is also available. Key references and reviews are included in each section.


Lane, D. P. (1992). Cancer. p53, guardian of the genome. Nature 358, 15-16.

Moll, U. M., and Schramm, L. M. (1998). p53--an acrobat in tumorigenesis. Crit Rev Oral Biol Med 9, 23-37.

Vousden, K. H. (2000). p53: death star. Cell 103, 691-694.

Harris CC (1993) p53: at the crossroads of molecular carcinogenesis and risk assessment. Science 262: 1980-1981.

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