- Metabolic alterations are common features of cancer cells and have recently been shown to have an important role in the maintenance of malignancies.
- p53 is a key tumour suppressor protein that has a diverse range of functions — including the ability to promote apoptosis, senescence and DNA repair — each of which helps to prevent cancer development. A role for p53 in regulating metabolic pathways has also recently been identified, suggesting that this is another mechanism by which p53 helps to stall malignant progression.
- Several functions of p53 promote oxidative phosphorylation and dampen glycolysis in cells; disruption of this balance is associated with mutations in p53 and oncogenic transformation.
- p53 also has a key role in regulating cell growth and autophagy, thereby helping to coordinate the cell’s response to nutrient starvation.
- Altered metabolism can contribute to malignant transformation, and cancer cells become dependent on these changes. Understanding the role of p53 in the regulation of metabolism may provide some interesting potential targets for the development of new cancer therapies.
Karen H. Vousden, Kevin M. Ryan, p53 and metabolism, Nature Reviews Cancer, 9, 691-700 (October 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrc2715 [link]