The Discovery of p53 Protein
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The p53 protein acts as a pivotal suppressor of inappropriate cell proliferation. By initiating suppressive effects through induction of apoptosis, cell senescence, or transient cell-cycle arrest, p53 plays an important role in cancer suppression, developmental regulation, and aging. Its discovery in 1979 was a product of research into viral etiology and the immunology of cancer. The p53 protein was first identified in a study of the role of viruses in cancer through its ability to form a complex with viral tumor antigens. In the same year, an immunological study of cancer also found p53 due to its immunoreactivity with tumor antisera. Although a series of studies found p53 through various routes, and various researchers called it different names, it was eventually confirmed that they had all encountered the same protein, p53.