• Open Access

New tricks of an old molecule: lifespan regulation by p53

Authors

  • Johannes H. Bauer,

    1. Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Stephen L. Helfand

    1. Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.


Stephen L. Helfand, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, 70 Ship Street, Room 407, Providence, RI 02903, USA. Tel.: +1 401 863 1615; fax: +1 401 863 9653; e-mail: stephen_helfand@brown.edu

Summary

As guardian of the genome the tumor suppressor p53 controls a crucial point in protection from cellular damage and response to stressors. Activation of p53 can have beneficial (DNA repair) or detrimental (apoptosis) consequences for individual cells. In either case activation of p53 is thought to safeguard the organism at large from the deleterious effects of various stresses. Recent data suggest that the function of p53 might also play a role in the regulation of organismal lifespan. Increased p53 activity leads to lifespan shortening in mice, while apparent reduction of p53 activity in flies leads to lifespan extension. Although the mechanism by which p53 regulates lifespan remains to be determined, these findings highlight the possibility that careful manipulation of p53 activity during adult life may result in beneficial effects on healthy lifespan.

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