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Oncol Res. 1996;8(10-11):387-98.

Telomeres, p53 and cellular senescence.

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Department of Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff, United Kingdom.


The ability of mammalian cells to respond to extrinsic mitogens is downregulated in response to proliferative aging (senescence), and it is now likely that at least a subset of such lifespan checkpoints is triggered by a biological "clock" based on erosion of chromosome telomeres. This review outlines the intrinsic inhibitory signal pathways that link this clock to cell cycle arrest, focussing on the role of tumour suppressor gene products, particularly the p53 and pRb proteins. Emphasis is placed on cell-type specific differences in the timing of lifespan checkpoints, and the "choice" of the underlying inhibitory signal pathway. It is argued that such diversity may explain many differences between cell types in the selection of tumour suppressor gene mutations, providing for example a novel explanation for the difference in molecular pathology and clinical behaviour between two important subsets of human breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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