A tumor suppressor. The designation "p53" stands for "protein 53 kilodaltons" in size. p53 is a specific protein produced by a gene that functions to suppress the growth of tumors. The p53 gene is the most commonly mutated gene known in human cancer. Like other tumor-suppressor genes, p53 normally controls cell growth. If p53 is physically lost or is not functioning (because it has been inactivated), this may permit the cell to divide without restraint. The level of p53 has prognostic (predictive) value. For example, breast cancer patients after mastectomy who have high levels of p53 are at higher risk for cancer recurrence than women with low levels of p53. The buildup of p53 within a cancer cell is a sign that p53 is not working properly to suppress the growth of the tumor.
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A tumor suppressor gene located on the short arm of chromosome 17 that encodes a nucleophosphoprotein that binds DNA and negatively regulates cell division; frequently measured as a marker of malignant diseases.

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p53 .pē-.fif-tē-'thrē n a tumor suppressor gene that in a defective form tends to be associated with a high risk of certain cancers (as of the colon, lung, and breast)

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a gene that mutates to form an important oncogene for human cancer. Recent trials of gene therapy that involved replacing the oncogene with the normal version of the gene have had a limited success.

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see under gene and protein.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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