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Cancer Lett. 2002 May 8;179(1):1-14.

Oncogenic functions of tumour suppressor p21(Waf1/Cip1/Sdi1): association with cell senescence and tumour-promoting activities of stromal fibroblasts.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607-7170, USA.


p21(Waf1/Cip1/Sdi1) is best known as a broad-specificity inhibitor of cyclin/cyclin-dependent kinase complexes, but p21 also interacts with many other regulators of transcription or signal transduction. p21 induction, which is mediated by p53 and by p53-independent mechanisms, is essential for the onset of cell cycle arrest in damage response and cell senescence. The effects of p21 knockout in mice and its expression patterns in human cancer are consistent with a role for p21 as both a tumour suppressor and an oncogene. Several functions of p21 are likely to promote carcinogenesis and tumour progression. These include endoreduplication and abnormal mitosis that develop in tumour cells after release from p21-induced growth arrest, the ability of p21 to inhibit apoptosis through several different mechanisms, and its ability to stimulate transcription of secreted factors with mitogenic and anti-apoptotic activities. The latter effects of p21 show close resemblance to paracrine activities of senescent cells and to tumour-promoting functions of stromal fibroblasts. Therapeutic strategies targeting the oncogenic consequences of p21 expression may provide a new approach to chemoprevention and treatment of cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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