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p53 modifications: exquisite decorations of the powerful guardian
Yanqing Liu1, Omid Tavana1, and Wei Gu 1,2,3,*
1 Institute for Cancer Genetics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA
2 Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA
3 Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, College of Physicia *Correspondence to:Wei Gu, E-mail:
J Mol Cell Biol, Volume 11, Issue 7, July 2019, 564-577,
Keyword: p53, acetylation, deacetylation, phosphorylation, ubiquitination, methylation, transcriptional regulation

The last 40 years have witnessed how p53 rose from a viral binding protein to a central factor in both stress responses and tumor suppression. The exquisite regulation of p53 functions is of vital importance for cell fate decisions. Among the multiple layers of mechanisms controlling p53 function, posttranslational modifications (PTMs) represent an efficient and precise way. Major p53 PTMs include phosphorylation, ubiquitination, acetylation, and methylation. Meanwhile, other PTMs like sumoylation, neddylation, O-GlcNAcylation, adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-ribosylation, hydroxylation, and β-hydroxybutyrylation are also shown to play various roles in p53 regulation. By independent action or interaction, PTMs affect p53 stability, conformation, localization, and binding partners. Deregulation of the PTM-related pathway is among the major causes of p53-associated developmental disorders or diseases, especially in cancers. This review focuses on the roles of different p53 modification types and shows how these modifications are orchestrated to produce various outcomes by modulating p53 activities or targeted to treat different diseases caused by p53 dysregulation.