Clinical implications of the p53 gene

Annu Rev Med. 1996;47:285-301. doi: 10.1146/


The capacity for malignant growth is acquired by the stepwise accumulation of defects in specific genes regulating cell growth and tissue homeostasis. Although several hundred genes are known to control growth, molecular genetic studies in cancer show that few of these are consistently involved in the natural history of human cancer, and those typically in only certain types of malignancy. Prospects for development of molecular-based diagnostic and therapeutic strategies with widespread application did not look promising, until it was realized that the p53 tumor suppressor gene was defective in approximately half of all malignancies. This discovery generated research efforts of unparalleled intensity to determine how p53 functions at the molecular level, and how to apply this knowledge to clinical ends.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Cell Division / genetics*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53