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Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 Oct;9(10):758-62. doi: 10.1038/nrc2732.

p53 ancestry: gazing through an evolutionary lens.

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  • 1Wan-Jin Lu and John M. Abrams are at the Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


Evolutionary patterns indicate that primordial p53 genes predated the appearance of cancer. Therefore, wild-type tumour suppressive functions and mutant oncogenic functions that give celebrity status to this gene family were probably co-opted from unrelated primordial activities. Is it possible to deduce what these early functions might have been? And might this knowledge provide a platform for therapeutic opportunities?

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