Does wild-type p53 play a role in normal cell differentiation?

Semin Cancer Biol. 1994 Jun;5(3):229-36.


Inactivation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene plays a major role in malignant transformation. The central question in this issue is concerned with the understanding of the function of p53 in normal cells and its deregulation in cancer cells. Several in vitro and in vivo experimental models have indicated that induction of cells to undergo differentiation involve up-regulation in the expression of the p53. In the case of B cell differentiation, p53 was found to be involved in several steps of the differentiation pathway. The conclusion that p53 plays a role in normal development and differentiation in vivo is substantiated by the observation that p53 is expressed during embryonic development and is detected at low levels in a number of organs of adult mice. Accentuated levels of p53 in testes of adult mice, suggests that p53 plays a role in the meiotic process of spermatogenesis. B cell differentiation and spermatogenesis are biological pathways which normally involve DNA reshuffling and rearrangements. In accordance with the notion that p53 is associated with DNA repair it is tempting to speculate that at least in these physiological pathways p53 functions as a master gene that controls genome integrity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • DNA Repair
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53