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Mol Cancer Res. 2011 Oct;9(10):1269-84. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-11-0220. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

p57(Kip2) and cancer: time for a critical appraisal.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.


p57(Kip2) is a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor belonging to the Cip/Kip family, which also includes p21(Cip1) and p27(Kip1). So far, p57(Kip2) is the least-studied Cip/Kip protein, and for a long time its relevance has been related mainly to its unique role in embryogenesis. Moreover, genetic and molecular studies on animal models and patients with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome have shown that alterations in CDKN1C (the p57(Kip2) encoding gene) have functional relevance in the pathogenesis of this disease. Recently, a number of investigations have identified and characterized heretofore unexpected roles for p57(Kip2). The protein appears to be critically involved in initial steps of cell and tissue differentiation, and particularly in neuronal development and erythropoiesis. Intriguingly, p27(Kip1), the Cip/Kip member that is most homologous to p57(Kip2), is primarily involved in the process of cell cycle exit. p57(Kip2) also plays a critical role in controlling cytoskeletal organization and cell migration through its interaction with LIMK-1. Furthermore, p57(Kip2) appears to modulate genome expression. Finally, accumulating evidence indicates that p57(Kip2) protein is frequently downregulated in different types of human epithelial and nonepithelial cancers as a consequence of genetic and epigenetic events. In summary, the emerging picture is that several aspects of p57(Kip2)'s functions are only poorly clarified. This review represents an appraisal of the data available on the p57(Kip2) gene and protein structure, and its role in human physiology and pathology. We particularly focus our attention on p57(Kip2) changes in cancers and pharmacological approaches for modulating p57(Kip2) levels.

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