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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011, Article ID 464916, 15 pages
Review Article

One Function—Multiple Mechanisms: The Manifold Activities of p53 as a Transcriptional Repressor

1Molecular Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Leipzig, Semmelweisstr. 14, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
2Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Saarland, Medical Center, Building 44, 66421 Homburg, Germany

Received 21 September 2010; Accepted 17 January 2011

Academic Editor: Noel F. Lowndes

Copyright © 2011 Levin Böhlig and Karen Rother. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Maintenance of genome integrity is a dynamic process involving complex regulation systems. Defects in one or more of these pathways could result in cancer. The most important tumor-suppressor is the transcription factor p53, and its functional inactivation is frequently observed in many tumor types. The tumor suppressive function of p53 is mainly attributed to its ability to regulate numerous target genes at the transcriptional level. While the mechanism of transcriptional induction by p53 is well characterized, p53-dependent repression is not understood in detail. Here, we review the manifold mechanisms of p53 as a transcriptional repressor. We classify two different categories of repressed genes based on the underlying mechanism, and novel mechanisms which involve regulation through noncoding RNAs are discussed. The complete elucidation of p53 functions is important for our understanding of its tumor-suppressor activity and, therefore, represents the key for the development of novel therapeutic approaches.