The tumour suppressor p53 has physiological roles beyond cancer, suggests a paper online in Nature Medicine. The molecule could aid in the prevention of birth defects associated with the craniofacial disease Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS).
TCS is a congenital disorder of craniofacial development that can be accompanied by hearing loss, facial bone abnormalities and cleft palate. The disease is caused by mutations in TCOF1, which encodes a protein known as Treacle that is relevant to ribosomal function. Paul Trainor and his colleagues show that inhibition of p53 in mice rescues the craniofacial abnormalities associated with mutations in Tcof1 by preventing the death of neural crest cells.
The work provides the first evidence that p53 plays an important role in other diseases and implies that its suppression might be an attractive avenue for future research.
Paul Trainor (Stowers Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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