P53 is an amazing protein. It’s role in Apoptosis and cellular repair is well known.
In studies conducted on the fruit fly, researchers at IRB Barcelona headed by ICREA Professor Marco Milan have revealed that organs have the molecular mechanisms to control their proportions. In this process the protein p53 plays a crucial role. The study is published in the prestigious journal PLoS Biology.
In this study the researchers used the wing primordium of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model. The primordium is responsible for forming the adult wing and was used to study how this stress affects remaining healthy tissue.
Headed by Milán, the study shows that when some specific cells of the wing primordium are subjected to stress, not only is the growth of this part of the organ reduced but also that of the remaining section. As a result, adult flies have smaller but proportional wings. "These experiments indicate that stressed cells send signals to the remaining tissues in order to reduce their growth in order to allow damaged tissue to repair itself and allow the organ to grow in a coordinated manner", explains Milán. When p53 was suppressed in stressed cells, the resulting wings were disproportional. This observation indicates that this protein is crucial for the coordinated growth of the different parts of an organ. Again, nature dictates that size is not relevant but proportions are.