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REVIEW: Function of the p53 Gene: Choice between Life and Death

P. M. Chumakov

Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Vavilova 32, Moscow, 117984 Russia; fax: (095) 135-1405; E-mail: chumakov@imb.ac.ru

Received October 5, 1999
Gene p53 is a central component of a system that eliminates pathologically damaged cells from an organism. Multiple signal pathways monitor the state of a cell and when damage or a fault is found that could cause heritable changes, p53 protein is activated to either coordinate the repair process or induce cell suicide. Thus, the p53 gene acts as a supreme judge that decides the fate of cells and guarantees their social behavior. Loss of the p53 gene results in uncontrolled accumulation of genetic damage causing failure of control by the organism, malignant cell growth, and death of the organism.
KEY WORDS: tumor suppressor, oncogene, cell cycle, apoptosis, genetic stability, transcription, protein conformation