RUNX proteins belong to a family of metazoan transcription factors that serve as master regulators of development. They are frequently deregulated in human cancers, indicating a prominent and, at times, paradoxical role in cancer pathogenesis. The contextual cues that direct RUNX function represent a fast-growing field in cancer research and could provide insights that are applicable to early cancer detection and treatment. This Review describes how RUNX proteins communicate with key signalling pathways during the multistep progression to malignancy; in particular, we highlight the emerging partnership of RUNX with p53 in cancer suppression.
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