Initially considered an orphan gene without relatives, the p53 tumor suppressor gene isn't such a loner after all, according to new findings published last month in Nature Medicine.
Researchers in Japan report that they have cloned the p51 gene, which is structurally and functionally similar to apoptosis-inducing p53. Mutated p53 is believed to contribute to the development of about half of all human cancers. At the same time, a team from the The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md, has identified another p53 homologue, which they call p40. Their research indicates that p40 is the human homologue of the rat ket gene. Last year, the Hopkins team identified the first p53 homologue, known as p73.
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