Tumor protein p53
Tumor protein p53, a nuclear protein, plays an essential role in the regulation of cell cycle, specifically in the transition from G0 to G1. It is found in very low levels in normal cells, however, in a variety of transformed cell lines, it is expressed in high amounts, and believed to contribute to transformation and malignancy. p53 is a DNA-binding protein containing DNA-binding, oligomerization and transcription activation domains. It is postulated to bind as a tetramer to a p53-binding site and activate expression of downstream genes that inhibit growth and/or invasion, and thus function as a tumor suppressor. Mutants of p53 that frequently occur in a number of different human cancers fail to bind the consensus DNA binding site, and hence cause the loss of tumor suppressor activity. Alterations of the TP53 gene occur not only as somatic mutations in human malignancies, but also as germline mutations in some cancer-prone families with Li-Fraumeni syndrome.