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J Mol Med (Berl). 2011 Mar;89(3):237-45. doi: 10.1007/s00109-011-0735-5. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Metabolic regulation by p53.

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  • 1The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow, UK.

Erratum in

  • J Mol Med. 2011 May;89(5):531.


We are increasingly aware that cellular metabolism plays a vital role in diseases such as cancer, and that p53 is an important regulator of metabolic pathways. By transcriptional activation and other means, p53 is able to contribute to the regulation of glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation, glutaminolysis, insulin sensitivity, nucleotide biosynthesis, mitochondrial integrity, fatty acid oxidation, antioxidant response, autophagy and mTOR signalling. The ability to positively and negatively regulate many of these pathways, combined with feedback signalling from these pathways to p53, demonstrates the reciprocal and flexible nature of the regulation, facilitating a diverse range of responses to metabolic stress. Intriguingly, metabolic stress triggers primarily an adaptive (rather than pro-apoptotic) p53 response, and p53 is emerging as an important regulator of metabolic homeostasis. A better understanding of how p53 coordinates metabolic adaptation will facilitate the identification of novel therapeutic targets and will also illuminate the wider role of p53 in human biology.

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