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Indian Journal of Human Genetics
Medknow Publications on behalf of Indian Society of Human Genetics
ISSN: 0971-6866
EISSN: 0971-6866
Vol. 8, No. 2, 2002, pp. 52-59
Bioline Code: hg02011
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Indian Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2002, pp. 52-59

 en Review Article - p53 in Brain Tumors : Basic Science Illuminates Clinical Oncology
Chitra Sarkar, Sanjay Mukhopadhyay, Mehar Chand Sharma


p53 is a tumor suppressor gene known as the "guardian of the genome" It protects cells from cancer, by preventing cells with damaged DNA from proliferating wantonly. This function is achieved by various unique mechanisms. These include cell-cycle arrest, which facilitates cell repair; and apoptosis, which ensures the death of cells too severely damaged to be repaired. We discuss these mechanisms and their significance in tumor biology. The p53 gene enjoys the dubious distinction of being the single most common target for genetic alteration in human tumors. We discuss here the role of p53 and its mutations in astrocytomas and other brain tumors. The study of p53 in astrocytomas is one of the prime examples of the close and fruitful collaboration between molecular biology and clinical practice. After decades of research, it is now accepted that p53 is involved both in the initiation as well as the progression of astrocytomas. A multi-step sequence for the evolution of astrocytomas to glioblastomas has been elucidated. The prognostic significance of p53 expression in brain tumors has also been a matter of extensive research. Finally, we touch upon the therapeutic implications of p53 in astrocytomas. Given the dismal consequences of the absence, malfunction or mutation of this gene, many workers have tried to halt the progression of tumors by reintroducing the wild-type gene as a form of biological therapy. This approach, conceptualized in the laboratory and actualized at the bedside, holds much promise for the treatment of these challenging tumors.

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