In 10 seconds? We have a protein called p53 in our bodies, which, when inactivated, is one of the most well-known ways for cancer to form. In a surprising twist, scientists found that continuous activation of p53 can cause cancer as well, adding a complex layer to our understanding of cancer biology.

Wait. What the heck is p53? In a previous digest, I described p53 as the VP of DNA quality control. When unwanted mutations occur in our DNA, it’s p53’s job to sound the alarm and signal the cell to self-destruct. This prevents that cell from accumulating more mutations and turning cancerous (that’s why it’s nicknamed the Guardian of the Genome). But even this guardian can get ‘injured’, and when p53 is irreparably deactivated (usually by mutations), it makes it much easier for cancer to form.

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