The accumulation of p53 protein following whole body irradiation of adult mice was studied using a new polyclonal antibody to mouse p53. While dramatic accumulation of the protein was apparent in splenocytes, thymocytes and osteocytes no p53 protein accumulation was detected in the hepatocytes of the irradiated mouse. Thus, the upstream initiating signals that control the induction of p53 are controlled in a tissue specific manner. While massive apoptosis accompanies p53 induction in thymocytes and splenocytes it is not seen in the osteocytes. Thus the downstream consequences of p53 induction are also tightly controlled. These results have profound significance for an understanding of the role of the p53 tumour suppression pathway in different tissues.

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