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Biochem Pharmacol. 2000 Oct 15;60(8):1153-63.

New insights into p53 regulation and gene therapy for cancer.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria.


Due to its critical involvement in cell cycle control and apoptotic signaling, the transcription factor p53 has become the most important tumor suppressor currently under investigation. TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancers and is thought to play a crucial role in malignant transformation. Therefore, p53 appears to be an appealing target for gene therapy. Adenoviral-based p53 gene transfection is now being introduced in large clinical trials. Viral cell entry was found to be the rate-limiting step of gene delivery and thus of therapeutic efficiency. Attachment of adenoviruses to the target cell surface is mediated through the coxsackie-adenovirus receptor, and internalization is achieved via interactions with integrins of the alpha v beta(3) and alpha v beta(5) class. The assumption that the restitution of the p53-dependent apoptotic pathway results in a higher responsiveness of solid tumors to cytostatic agents remains a major matter of debate. Combinations of p53-based gene therapy with other components involved in apoptosis, such as tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)/APO2L, or agents neutralizing tumor-promoting antiapoptotic signals, such as humanized anti-growth factor antibodies, should further improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment in the future.

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