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Oncotarget. 2011 Mar;2(3):234-8.

The RP-Mdm2-p53 pathway and tumorigenesis.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


The dynamic processes of cell growth and division are under constant surveillance. As one of the primary "gatekeepers" of the cell, the p53 tumor suppressor plays a major role in sensing and responding to a variety of stressors to maintain cellular homeostasis. Recent studies have shown that inhibition of ribosomal biogenesis can activate p53 through ribosomal protein (RP)-mediated suppression of Mdm2 E3 ligase activity. Mutations in Mdm2 that disrupt RP binding have been detected in human cancers; however, the physiological significance of the RP-Mdm2 interaction is not completely understood. We generated mice carrying a single cysteine-to-phenylalanine substitution in the central zinc finger of Mdm2 (Mdm2C305F) that disrupts Mdm2's binding to RPL11 and RPL5. Despite being developmentally normal and maintaining an intact p53 response to DNA damage, the Mdm2C305F mice demonstrate a diminished p53 response to perturbations in ribosomal biogenesis, providing the first in vivo evidence for an RP-Mdm2-p53 signaling pathway. Here we review some recent studies about RP-Mdm2-p53 signaling and speculate on the relevance of this pathway to human cancer.

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