The p53 pathway: positive and negative feedback loops

Oncogene. 2005 Apr 18;24(17):2899-908. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1208615.


The p53 pathway responds to stresses that can disrupt the fidelity of DNA replication and cell division. A stress signal is transmitted to the p53 protein by post-translational modifications. This results in the activation of the p53 protein as a transcription factor that initiates a program of cell cycle arrest, cellular senescence or apoptosis. The transcriptional network of p53-responsive genes produces proteins that interact with a large number of other signal transduction pathways in the cell and a number of positive and negative autoregulatory feedback loops act upon the p53 response. There are at least seven negative and three positive feedback loops described here, and of these, six act through the MDM-2 protein to regulate p53 activity. The p53 circuit communicates with the Wnt-beta-catenin, IGF-1-AKT, Rb-E2F, p38 MAP kinase, cyclin-cdk, p14/19 ARF pathways and the cyclin G-PP2A, and p73 gene products. There are at least three different ubiquitin ligases that can regulate p53 in an autoregulatory manner: MDM-2, Cop-1 and Pirh-2. The meaning of this redundancy and the relative activity of each of these feedback loops in different cell types or stages of development remains to be elucidated. The interconnections between signal transduction pathways will play a central role in our understanding of cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Feedback*
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / chemistry
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53