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Cell Cycle. 2008 Feb 1;7(3):277-82. Epub 2007 Nov 18.

Protective mechanisms of p53-p21-pRb proteins against DNA damage-induced cell death.

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The National Institute for Medical Research, London, United Kingdom.


There have been innumerate demonstrations of p53's activity as a tumour suppressor protein with the ability to stimulate cell signalling that can lead to cell cycle arrest and cell death in the event of DNA damage. Despite the solid body of evidence to support these properties of p53, reports have emerged that suggest a role for p53 in protecting cells from cell death. Our recent report highlighted a mechanism by which p53 activity can promote cell survival in the event of DNA damage. Here we present the various mechanisms that are activated by p53 signalling that can confer protection to cells with damaged DNA and emphasise the practical and clinical implications of a more balanced and context-dependent understanding of p53's pro-apoptotic and pro-survival activities.

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