Among the hundreds of oncogenes and tumor suppressors that have been identified in the past 50 years, p53 is probably the best characterized; nevertheless, new functions are constantly being discovered. As a tumor suppressor, p53 regulates cellular responses to different stress stimuli by inducing reversible cell cycle arrest and DNA repair, or triggering senescence or apoptosis. Recent findings on the regulation of stem cell (SC) division and reprogramming suggest the intriguing possibility that p53 also carries out its tumor suppression function by regulating SC homeostasis. Specifically, p53 activation may counteract SC expansion by several emerging mechanisms including restriction of self-renewing divisions, inhibition of symmetric division and block of reprogramming of somatic/progenitor cells into SCs.
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