p53: the barrier to cancer stem cell formation

FEBS Lett. 2014 Aug 19;588(16):2580-9. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2014.02.011. Epub 2014 Feb 19.


The role of p53 as the "guardian of the genome" in differentiated somatic cells, triggering various biological processes, is well established. Recent studies in the stem cell field have highlighted a profound role of p53 in stem cell biology as well. These studies, combined with basic data obtained 20 years ago, provide insight into how p53 governs the quantity and quality of various stem cells, ensuring a sufficient repertoire of normal stem cells to enable proper development, tissue regeneration and a cancer free life. In this review we address the role of p53 in genomically stable embryonic stem cells, a unique predisposed cancer stem cell model and adult stem cells, its role in the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells, as well as its role as the barrier to cancer stem cell formation.

Keywords: Cancer stem cells; Loss of heterozygosity; Stem cells; Tumorigenesis; p53.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53