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The regulation of cellular metabolism by tumor suppressor p53

Yingjian Liang, Juan Liu and Zhaohui Feng*

Author Affiliations

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 195 Little Albany Street, New Brunswick, NJ, 08903, USA

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Cell & Bioscience 2013, 3:9  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-3-9

Published: 6 February 2013


As a hallmark of tumor cells, metabolic alterations play a critical role in tumor development and could be targeted for tumor therapy. Tumor suppressor p53 plays a central role in tumor prevention. As a transcription factor, p53 mainly exerts its function in tumor suppression through its transcriptional regulation of its target genes to initiate various cellular responses. Cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and senescence are most well-understood functions of p53, and are traditionally accepted as the major mechanisms for p53 in tumor suppression. Recent studies have revealed a novel function of p53 in regulation of cellular metabolism. p53 regulates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, glutamine metabolism, lipid metabolism, and antioxidant defense. Through the regulation of these metabolic processes, p53 maintains the homeostasis of cellular metabolism and redox balance in cells, which contributes significantly to the role of p53 as a tumor suppressor. Further understanding of the role and molecular mechanism of p53 in cellular metabolism could lead to the identification of novel targets and development of novel strategies for tumor therapy.

p53; Tumor suppressor; Cancer metabolism; The Warburg effect; Glycolysis; Oxidative phosphorylation; Lipid metabolism; Glutaminolysis; Antioxidant defense