The gene p53 is the focus of considerable clinical interest as it is frequently mutated in human cancers. The protein it encodes, p53, is an important part of the cell-suicide system that keeps DNA damage in check.
This week researchers report in Nature (Vol. 416, No. 6880, 04 Apr 02) that p53-mediated hara-kiri also seems to depend upon two other proteins, called p63 and p73. If both these are absent p53 seems unable to nip DNA damage in the bud.
"These data may portend a greater role for these proteins in tumour suppression and chemosensitivity," conclude Tyler Jacks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland, and colleagues.
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