A new defense alliance

Interferons and p53 cooperate to suppress tumors and strengthen antiviral responses

Andrea Rinaldi(

Detection and prevention of viral infection and tumor induction are key to maintaining host integrity, and both rely on a variety of molecular parties. p53 is a potent tumor suppressor and a common denominator in human cancer. It transmits signals generated by cellular stresses—including DNA damage—to genes and factors that ultimately induce cell death. Interferons (IFNs) are a family of cytokines that protect the body against viral infection. In an advanced online publication in the July 17 Nature, Akinori Takaoka and colleagues at the University of Tokyo describe a previously unreported crosstalk between p53 and IFNs in tumor suppression and antiviral immunity (Nature, DOI:10.1038/nature01850, July 16, 2003).

Takaoka et al. stimulated mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) with IFN-α and IFN-β and in both cases observed an induction of p53 transcription and a substantial increase in the level of the protein. INFs did not activate p53 directly but rather...

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