p53 and ageing: too much of a good thing?

Bioessays. 2002 Jul;24(7):577-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.10111.


A recent report by Tyner et al.(1) suggests that p53 is bad for longevity. Heterozygotic mice carrying a p53 mutation that apparently enhances the stability of the wild-type protein showed shorter lifespans and faster ageing while also developing fewer tumours. This fits with the idea that cellular ageing is the price paid for better protection against unlimited proliferation of cancer cells. But other work shows that there is a strong positive association between DNA repair-mediated protection against cancer and ageing. So what are we to make of the new data with regard to overall understanding of the mechanisms of ageing?

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53