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Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 Jun;9(6):400-14. doi: 10.1038/nrc2657.

p21 in cancer: intricate networks and multiple activities.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia, School of Medicine, 1340 Jefferson Park Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


One of the main engines that drives cellular transformation is the loss of proper control of the mammalian cell cycle. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 (also known as p21WAF1/Cip1) promotes cell cycle arrest in response to many stimuli. It is well positioned to function as both a sensor and an effector of multiple anti-proliferative signals. This Review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of the regulation of p21 and its biological functions with emphasis on its p53-independent tumour suppressor activities and paradoxical tumour-promoting activities, and their implications in cancer.

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