Tumor suppressor p53 is a major cellular guardian ofgenome integrity, and its inactivation is the most frequent genetic alteration in cancer, rising up to80% in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). By adapting the small hairpin RNA (shRNA) technology, we inactivated endogenous p53 in primary epithelial cells from the epidermis of human skin. We show thateither loss of endogenous p53 or overexpressionofa temperature-sensitive dominant-negative conformation triggers a self-protective differentiation response, resulting in cell stratification and expulsion. These effects follow DNA damage and exit from mitosis without cell division. p53 preserves the proliferative potential of the stem cell compartment and limits the power of proto-oncogene MYC to drive cell cycle stress and differentiation. The results provide insight into the role of p53 in self-renewal homeostasis and help explain why p53 mutations do not initiate skin cancer but increase the likelihood that cancer cells will appear.
Freije, A., Molinuevo, R., Ceballos, L., Cagigas, M., Alonso-Lecue, P., Rodriguez, R., … Gandarillas, A. (2014). Inactivation of p53 in Human Keratinocytes Leads to Squamous Differentiation and Shedding via Replication Stress and Mitotic Slippage. Cell Reports, 9(4), 1349–1360. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2014.10.012