Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

Dynamic Responses

Science Signaling  19 Jun 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 229, pp. ec172
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003310

Expression of the tumor suppressor p53 is activated in response to cell stress. The dynamics of p53 activation can vary, depending on the stressor, resulting in either pulsatile or constant p53 levels; however, the functional consequence of these different dynamics is unclear. Purvis et al. developed a method to control p53 dynamics in human cells. Pulsing p53 selectively activated genes involved in cell cycle arrest and DNA repair, allowing recovery from DNA damage. In contrast, sustained p53 promoted induction of terminal genes leading to cellular senescence. Thus, protein dynamics can affect cell fate decisions.

J. E. Purvis, K. W. Karhohs, C. Mock, E. Batchelor, A. Loewer, G. Lahav, p53 dynamics control cell fate. Science 336, 1440–1444 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]