p53 functions and cell lines: Have we learned the lessons from the past?

Authors

  • Jean-François Millau,

    1. Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
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  • Sabine Mai,

    1. Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology, The University of Manitoba, Cancer Care Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
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  • Nathalie Bastien,

    1. Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
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  • Régen Drouin

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
    • Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada.
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Abstract

p53 has a determinant role in cancer prevention and is among the most studied proteins in the world. The majority of studies devoted to this protein are carried out in cell lines because they are easy to use and have naturally emerged as the main research tool in laboratories. However, the p53 pathway is commonly deregulated in cancer cells, from which the experimental cell lines are generally derived. The fact that the pathway is deregulated challenges the relevance of using cancer-derived cell lines to study wild-type p53 activities, or, in a broader sense, to study any normal cellular process. In the present article, we identify and discuss a number of limitations of cell lines using examples related to p53. Finally, we point out the general limitations of cell lines and propose solutions as alternatives to these cells.

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