The importance of p53 location: nuclear or cytoplasmic zip code?

Drug Resist Updat. 2003 Dec;6(6):313-22. doi: 10.1016/j.drup.2003.10.004.


The regulation of p53 functions is tightly controlled through several mechanisms including p53 transcription and translation, protein stability, post-translational modifications, and subcellular localization. Despite intensive study of p53, the regulation of p53 subcellular localization although important for its function is still poorly understood. The regulation of p53 localization depends on factors that influence its nuclear import and export, subnuclear localization and cytoplasmic tethering and sequestration. In this review, we will focus on various proteins and modifications that regulate the location and therefore the activity of p53. For example, MDM2 is the most important regulator of p53 nuclear export and degradation. Cytoplasmic p53 associates with the microtubule cytoskeleton and the dynein family of motor proteins; while Parc and mot2 are involved in its cytoplasmic sequestration. Finally, a portion of p53 is localized to the mitochondria as part of the non-transcriptional apoptotic response. In this review we strive to present the most recent data on how the activity of p53 is regulated by its location.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53