A visual guide to restoring the guardian of the genome


p53 the VIP

The p53 protein is concerned in a dizzying array of wholesome physiological features. In lots of instances, p53 controls these features by regulating gene expression. p53 instantly regulates greater than 300 genes with many extra not directly affected1.

Graphic showing p53 and the various physiological functions it is involved in

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Centre of consideration

The gene that produces p53 (generally known as TP53) is essentially the most well-studied gene within the human genome, having been cited in additional than 10,000 papers since its discovery in 19792.

Bar chart comparing the number of cited papers on TP53 compared with EGFR and TNF

Supply: NCBI-NLM as of 25 January 2022; Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

A wholesome perform

Wholesome cells categorical low ranges of p53. The protein is generally trapped in an inhibited state, and these inactive p53 molecules are swiftly damaged down. Inactive p53 molecules have a median half-life of simply 9 minutes3.

Graphic illustrating the main functional domains in p53

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

A regulatory protein referred to as MDM2 retains p53 in its inactive state. Beneath regular situations, MDM2 provides chemical modifications to p53 that mark it for destruction by the cell.

Graphic showing destructive interaction between p53 and MDM2

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Varied mobile stressors could cause MDM2 to separate from p53. When this occurs, p53 is shuttled from the cytoplasm into the nucleus. Many of those stress triggers are instantly linked to most cancers.

Graphic showing the effect of stress on MDM2 and p53

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Contained in the nucleus, 4 molecules of p53 assemble right into a tetramer that binds to particular response-element sequences in DNA.

Graphic showing DNA bound by a p53 tetramer

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

The goal genes can produce a variety of responses, relying on the severity of the stress. For delicate stress, p53 may put cell division on maintain whereas it triggers DNA restore, or tunes mobile metabolic exercise. For extreme stress, p53 can put cells right into a state of everlasting progress arrest or set off cell dying by means of apoptosis.

Graphic showing the cellular outcomes of p53 reacting to mild and severe stress

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Damaged or blocked

The perform of p53 might be misplaced owing to mutations within the TP53 gene, or due to the dysfunction of proteins that regulate p53. In both case, these issues give most cancers the inexperienced mild to progress.

Tumours with mutant p53. The TP53 gene is mutated in additional than 50% of tumours4. Round 80% of p53 mutations have an effect on amino acids within the protein’s DBD, inflicting it to misfold and likewise interfering with the popularity of goal genes4. Even one mutated copy of TP53 can gas tumour formation, given {that a} faulty p53 protein mixed with different, regular p53 proteins will type a non-functional tetramer. Some research recommend that mutant p53 additionally inflicts harm by accumulating as aggregates of misfolded proteins5.

Graphic showing possible problems resulting from mutated p53

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Tumours with wild-type p53. Even when TP53 is just not mutated, p53 perform can nonetheless be disrupted. For instance, some tumours produce extreme MDM2 that retains p53 trapped in an inactive state.

Graphic showing p53 constrained by an excess of MDM2

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Most cancers set unfastened

Lack of p53 perform can promote tumorigenesis and most cancers development in a number of methods.

Graphic showing how loss of p53 function can promote tumorigenesis

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

An opportunity of remedy

Even after 40 years of analysis, clinicians nonetheless lack medication that may particularly goal tumours with p53 dysfunction. However a number of promising therapeutic methods are actually present process trials.

Tumours with mutant p53. Some small-molecule medication can bind mutant p53 in a manner that restores regular folding. A number of such medication are actually in preclinical or early-stage scientific improvement6. Nevertheless, this strategy requires remedy to be tailor-made to every affected person’s specific TP53 mutation.

Graphic illustrating how mutated p53 might be correcetd by administration of a drug

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Tumours with wild-type p53. Medicine that block MDM2’s potential to inhibit p53 may supply an answer for tumours that produce an extra of MDM27. A number of firms presently have such candidate medication in scientific trials.

Graphic illustrating how drugs that block MDM2 might allow p53 to function

Infographic: Lucy Studying-Ikkanda

Potent companions

The p53-oriented medication examined up to now have proven minimal or modest efficacy on their very own. However by serving to to normalize p53 perform, these medication might be utilized in mixture with current therapeutic methods to offer them a lift.

Apoptosis inducers. There are a number of proteins that tumour cells can exploit to inhibit cell dying. Restoring p53 perform drives the degradation of certainly one of these, generally known as MCL-1. Combining this remedy with medication that knock out comparable proteins, comparable to BCL-2, may due to this fact promote apoptosis extra successfully than both remedy alone.

Immune-cell activators. The lack of p53 perform places tumours into an immunosuppressed state. Restoring regular perform may prime tumours to reply to medication such because the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab.

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