Family feud in chemosensitvity: p73 and mutant p53

Cell Cycle. 2004 Mar;3(3):319-23. Epub 2004 Mar 1.


The importance of p53 in chemotherapy-induced apoptosis of cancer cells is well established. p53 plays a critical role in the cellular response to DNA damage by regulating genes involved in cell cycle progression, apoptosis, and genomic stability. As a result, p53 tumor status is a critical determinant of both responses to anti-cancer treatment and clinical prognosis. Interestingly, tumors expressing certain mutant forms of p53 ("gain of function") are particularly resistant to chemotherapy, even when compared to cells that lack any detectable p53. Until recently, the explanation for this enhanced chemoresistance was not clear. Recent studies have shown that the p53 homologues, p73 and p63, are also activated by chemotherapies, leading to tumor cell death. Now the discovery that mutant p53 interacts with p73, and that regulation of this interaction by a p53 polymorphism can modulate chemosensitvity provide a new model for how p53-family interactions can influence the response of tumors to anti-cancer therapies. Since p53 mutations are found in more than 50% of human tumors, strategies aimed at manipulating these interactions may prove useful in enhancing the chemotherapy response, and perhaps, overcoming chemoresistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tumor Protein p73
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / chemistry
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Tumor Protein p73
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • p73 protein, human