The tumour suppressor p53 is a transcription factor that has evolved the ability to integrate distinct environmental signals including DNA damage, virus infection, and cytokine signaling into a common biological outcome that maintains normal cellular control. Mutations in p53 switch the cellular transcription program resulting in deregulation of the stress responses that normally maintain cell and tissue integrity. Transgenic studies in mice have indicated that changes in the specific activity of p53 can have profound effects not only on cancer development, but also on organism aging. As the specific activity of p53 is regulated at a post-translational level by sets of enzymes that mediate phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation, and ubiquitin-like modifications, it is likely that physiological modifiers of the aging function of p53 would be enzymes that catalyze such covalent modifications. We demonstrate that distinct stress-activated kinases, including ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), casein kinase 1 (CK1) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), mediate phosphorylation of a key phospho-acceptor site in the p53 transactivation domain in response to diverse stresses including ionizing radiation, DNA virus infection, and elevation in the intracellular AMP/ATP ratio. As diseases linked to aging can involve activation of p53-dependent changes in cellular protective pathways, the development of specific physiological models might further shed light on the role of p53 kinases in modifying age-related diseases.
Keywords: AMPK; ATM; CK1; Ser20 phosphorylation; kinase; p53; stress.