The evolution of diverse biological responses to DNA damage: insights from yeast and p53

Nat Cell Biol. 2001 Dec;3(12):E277-86. doi: 10.1038/ncb1201-e277.


The cellular response to ionizing radiation provides a conceptual framework for understanding how a yeast checkpoint system, designed to make binary decisions between arrest and cycling, evolved in a way as to allow reversible arrest, senescence or apoptosis in mammals. We propose that the diversity of responses to ionizing radiation in mammalian cells is possible because of the addition of a new regulatory control module involving the tumour-suppressor gene p53. We review the complex mechanisms controlling p53 activity and discuss how the p53 regulatory module enables cells to grow, arrest or die by integrating DNA damage checkpoint signals with the response to normal mitogenic signalling and the aberrant signalling engendered by oncogene activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Damage / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*
  • Yeasts / physiology*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53