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Nature. 1985 Oct 31-Nov 6;317(6040):816-8.

The cellular oncogene p53 can be activated by mutagenesis.


P53 is a cellular phosphoprotein of short half-life (t1/2) which is present at elevated levels in cells transformed by various stimuli including viruses, chemicals and radiation. p53 forms specific stable complexes with simian virus 40 (SV40) large-T antigen and an adenovirus E1b protein of relative molecular mass (Mr) 57,000. A number of reports have associated p53 with cell proliferation, and p53 complementary DNA expression constructs immortalize primary cells in vitro and render them sensitive to transformation by an activated ras oncogene. We have examined the biological properties of a set of p53 expression constructs, and report here that cellular immortalization by a wild-type p53 cDNA gene is conditional upon the promoter/enhancer construction used, but that p53 can extend cellular lifespan by a second distinct mechanism involving rearrangements of the coding sequence which give rise to stable protein products. Cells immortalized by one of these mutants are refractory to subsequent transformation by a ras oncogene, indicating that cellular immortalization and ras cooperation are separate activities.

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