Half of all known cancers involve some mutation in p53
, the so-called guardian of the cell. P53 is a tumor suppressor which signals for cell death if their DNA gets damaged. If these cells didn't die, their damaged DNA would lead to the strange and unusual growths found in cancer tumors and this growth would continue unchecked, until death. When p53 breaks down and does not fold correctly (or even perhaps if it doesn't fold quickly enough), then DNA damage goes unchecked and one can get cancer. We have been studying specific domains of p53 in order to predict mutations relevant in cancer and to study known cancer related mutants.