Insights into the role of a p53 target gene in cancer protection

A study co-led by UPF has investigated the role of Zmat3, a target gene of p53 – the main gene altered in most cancers – in protecting against the development of this type of disease.

The studied protein, Zmat3, in the nucleus of mouse cells. Image from The Human Protein Atlas.

In a recent project, the Cancer Biology group of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University (DCEXS-UPF) has studied the function of Zmat3, one of the target genes of p53 – a tumor supressor gene mutated in more than half of the world’s cancers.

The researchers in the team led by Ana Janic eliminated Zmat3 from preclinical mouse models of lymphoma and lung cancer and saw how the absence of this protein had little impact on the development of the disease and its severity.

“It is likely that at least in some types of blood and lung cancers, it is not Zmat3 protein alone but several proteins that work together to prevent cancer formation”
Ana Janic, team leader (DCEXS-UPF) and co-director of the study

Thus, to the surprise of the group, the role of Zmat3 in isolation has not been decisive. But these results have served to take a further step in the characterization of the different p53 target genes that contribute to our body’s battle against cancer.

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