Keyes WM, Pecoraro M, Aranda V, Vernersson-Lindahl E, Li W, Vogel H, Guo X, Garcia EL, Michurina TV, Enikolopov G, Muthuswamy SK, Mills AA
The p53 homolog p63 is essential for development, yet its role in cancer is not clear. We discovered that p63 deficiency evokes the tumor-suppressive mechanism of cellular senescence, causing a striking absence of stratified epithelia such as the skin. Here we identify the predominant p63 isoform, ΔNp63α, as a protein that bypasses oncogene-induced senescence to drive tumorigenesis in vivo. Interestingly, bypass of senescence promotes stem-like proliferation and maintains survival of the keratin 15-positive stem cell population. Furthermore, we identify the chromatin-remodeling protein Lsh as a new target of ΔNp63α that is an essential mediator of senescence bypass. These findings indicate that ΔNp63α is an oncogene that cooperates with Ras to promote tumor-initiating stem-like proliferation and suggest that Lsh-mediated chromatin-remodeling events are critical to this process.