Potent Cancer Tumor Suppressor Gene Shows Promise

New insights into a gene with anti-cancer activity may grow options for cancer treatment.

New research into the function of a gene that is important in the suppression of cancer revealed even greater anti-cancer activity than was previously believed, according to a study published in Open Biology.

“TP53 is one of the most potent genes in the human genome at preventing cancer and hence is termed a tumor suppressor gene,” said lead study author, Noel Lowndes. “The importance of TP53 as a tumor suppressor is best illustrated by its mutation in at least half of all human cancers.”

It’s been known that the TP53 gene functions in processes that prevent cancer cells from multiplying in the body through the prevention of cell division, or by triggering their own destruction, which together were recognized as potent anti-cancer mechanisms.

“In our recent work we add a new role to the expanding list of anti-cancer mechanisms controlled by TP53,” Lowndes said. “We show that TP53 directly regulates the repair of broken DNA. Broken DNA is the most dangerous type of DNA damage as it can result in cell death or loss of genetic information in those cells that survive the break.”

To repair broken DNA, there are 2 major competing biochemical pathways. While one rejoins the 2 ends of the broken chromosome, the other uses an intact DNA molecule near the same sequence as a template to repair the broken chromosome, according to Lowndes.

“Our work demonstrates that TP53 directly influences the regulation of these 2 pathways,” Lowndes said. “Thus, loss of TP53 during cancer development will drive the evolution of cancer cells towards ever more aggressive cancer types.”

Researchers noted that they hope these findings will lead to the improved cancer therapy interventions