p53 tans skin and fights skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of human cancer today, and it is increasing at an astounding rate. Thus it is a sign of relief that the Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, at Harvard University in Massachusetts in the journal Cell have reported a new feature of protein to fight ‘skin cancer.’

p53 2222The protein p53, has a powerful role in protecting us against sun damage in the skin. p53 is also known as ‘master watchman of the genome’ for its ability to protect human being from cancer-causing DNA damage. It is activated when the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damage DNA. When this happens, Alpha-MSH hormone is produced, which assists in the tanning of skin. By prompting the skin to tan in response to UV light from the sun, it deters the development of melanoma skin cancer.

skin 2222This image shows skin which either contains p53 (normal, “+/+”) or was genetically engineered to lack p53 (“-/-“) before and after exposure by ultraviolet light (UV). Whereas normal skin becomes pigmented (as indicated by the dark arcs of pigment within skin cells), skin cells lacking p53 fail to induce the pigment/tanning response.

tan2 2222UV rays from the Sun help to produce vitamin D in the body, which helps to maintain strength in bones. But overexposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer. It is estimated that about 70% of non-melanoma skin cancers are induced by UV radiation, as a consequence of exposure to sunlight.

So next time think twice before Sun tanning.

To know more about p53 and skin cancer, you can have a look at the following:

UV and skin cancer: specific p53 gene mutation in normal skin as a biologically relevant exposure measurement

Role of p53 in preventing skin cancer induction

Getting Under the Skin of Cancer Development

Sunburn and p53 in the onset of skin cancer

Image Credit: Bioinf, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, CARIBJOURNAL

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