Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 75, Issue 6, pp 965–973 | Cite as

A double dealing tale of p63: an oncogene or a tumor suppressor

  • Yonglong Chen
  • Yougong Peng
  • Shijie Fan
  • Yimin Li
  • Zhi-Xiong Xiao
  • Chenghua Li


As a member of tumor suppressor p53 family, p63, a gene encoding versatile protein variant, has been documented to correlate with cancer formation and progression, though it is rarely mutated in cancer patients. However, it has long been controversial on whether p63 is an oncogene or a tumor suppressor. Here, we comprehensively reviewed reports on roles of p63 in development, tumorigenesis and tumor progression. According to data from molecular cell biology, genetic models and clinic research, we conclude that p63 may act as either an oncogene or a tumor suppressor gene in different scenarios: TA isoforms of p63 gene are generally tumor-suppressive through repressing cell proliferation, survival and metastasis; ΔN isoforms, however, may initiate tumorigenesis via promoting cell proliferation and survival, but inhibit tumor metastasis and progression; effects of p63 on tumor formation and progression depend on the context of the whole p53 family, and either amplification or loss of p63 gene locus can break the balance to cause tumorigenesis.


TAp63 ΔNp63 Oncoprotein Cell senescence Cell migration 



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (#31671423) and Science and Technology Department of Sichuan Province (#2016JY0152). We thank the members of Zhi-Xiong Xiao lab for stimulative discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Growth, Metabolism and Aging, Key Laboratory of Biological Resources and Ecological Environment of Ministry of Education, College of Life SciencesSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.Department of General SurgeryThe Second People’s Hospital of JingmenJingmenChina

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