Targeting Mutant p53 for Improved Cancer Therapy

  • Jinfeng Shen
  • Vladimir J. N. Bykov
  • Klas G. Wiman


Pharmacological restoration of wild-type activity to mutant p53 has emerged as a promising strategy for improved cancer therapy. This should restore p53-dependent apoptosis in response to oncogenic stress and thus eliminate the tumor. Mutant p53 reactivation may also lead to inhibition of mutant p53 gain-of-function activities that promote tumor growth, and act synergistically with conventional chemotherapeutic agents and radiotherapy. Several small molecules that target mutant p53 and restore wild-type conformation, and/or preferentially target mutant p53-expressing tumor cells, have been identified. Strategies for identification of such compounds include both rational design, based on detailed structural studies of mutant p53, and random screening of chemical libraries using protein or cellular assays. The mutant p53-reactivating compounds PRIMA-1 and APR-246 (PRIMA-1MET) modify cysteines in the p53 core domain by Michael addition. Mutant versions of p53 family members p63 and p73 can be targeted as well. The safety of APR-246 has been tested in a phase I clinical trial. Further studies should address the molecular mechanism of mutant p53 reactivation in more detail and assess clinical antitumor efficacy.


Human Papilloma Virus Human Papilloma Virus Michael Acceptor Cysteine Modification Improve Cancer Therapy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden), the Swedish Medical Research Council (VR), the Cancer Society of Stockholm, the Stockholm County Council (ALF), the EU FP6 framework program, and Karolinska Institutet for generous support. V.J.N.B. and K.G.W. are cofounders and shareholders of the company Aprea AB that develops p53-based cancer therapy including APR-246. K.G.W. is a member of its board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinfeng Shen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vladimir J. N. Bykov
    • 1
  • Klas G. Wiman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oncology-PathologyCancer Center Karolinska (CCK), Karolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Hematology, Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative MedicineStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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