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Oncogene. 2010 Sep 16;29(37):5113-9. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.266. Epub 2010 Jul 12.

p53 isoforms gain functions.

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  • 1INSERM Cibles Therapeutiques, Institut de Génétique Moléculaire, Hôpital St Louis, Paris, France.


Many different cell stress pathways converge on p53 to induce a number of distinct cell biological responses such as G1 or G2 arrest, senescence or apoptosis. One of the outstanding questions with regard to p53 is how the cells can differentiate between different stresses so that p53 activation leads to the correct response. It has been known for some time that the p53 gene expresses isoforms that carry unique domains and properties, and more recent works have started to reveal some of their functions. The alternative mRNA translation product p53/47, which lacks the first 40 codons, including the first of p53's two trans-activation domains, is being linked to endoplasmic reticulum stress and the unfolded protein response to which it causes a specific G2 arrest. On the other hand, p53 itself induces G1 arrest and has no effect on the G2. The two isoforms Δ133p53, which lacks the first 133 amino acids, and p53β, which carries an alternative C-terminus, are derived from alternative promoter usage or splicing, respectively, and are together implied in controlling cellular senescence. Hence, through different mechanisms of gene expression control, alternative levels of p53 isoforms help the cell to differentiate between p53 activation and the response to diverse stresses. This holds promise to a better understanding of how upstream and downstream p53 pathways have evolved relative to specific p53 domains.

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