GUARDIAN OF THE GENOME All of us have lurking in our DNA a most remarkable gene whose job is to protect us from the activation and results of faulty mechanisms. The most dramatic end point of which may be cancer. This gene, known simply as p53, constantly scans our cells to ensure that when they grow and divide as part of the routine maintenance of our bodies, they do so without mishap.
But if a cell makes a “mistake” at the level where it’s copying its DNA during the process of division, p53 stops it in its tracks. It does so by sending in the repair team before allowing the cell to carry on dividing. However, if the mistake is irreparable and the rogue cell threatens to grow out of control, p53 commands the cell to commit suicide.
The p53 tumour suppressor is a master regulator of cell cycle progression and apoptosis in response to cellular stressors. It regulates cell division by keeping cells from growing and dividing too fast or in an uncontrolled way.
This protein plays a critical role in determining whether the DNA will be repaired or the damaged cell will self-destruct (undergo apoptosis). If the DNA can be repaired, tumour protein p53 activates other genes to fix the damage. If the DNA cannot be repaired, this protein prevents the cell from dividing and signals it to undergo apoptosis which helps prevent the development of tumours. Because tumour protein p53 is essential for regulating cell division and preventing tumour formation, it can, therefore, be rightly referred to as the “guardian of the genome.”
Scientists from the National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS) state that the mutant form of the p53 gene, the major tumour suppressor in humans, is generally found mutated in over 50% of all type of human cancers. But not only cancers. Mutations are potentially present in all diseases of civilization, describable as “epigenetics”. All chronic conditions carry various forms of DNA mutations, mostly related to p53 and its transcription