Affiliation: 1670 University Blvd, VH 113, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-0019, USA.
The MDM2 oncogene is overexpressed in various human cancers. Its expression correlates with the phenotypes of high-grade, late-stage, and more resistant tumors. The auto-regulatory loop between MDM2 and the tumor suppressor p53 has long been considered the epitome of a rational target for cancer therapy. As such, many novel agents have been generated to interfere with the interaction of the two proteins, which results in the activation of p53. Among these agents are several small molecule inhibitors synthesized based upon the crystal structures of the MDM2-p53 complex. With use of high-throughput screening, several specific and effective agents for inhibition of the protein-protein interaction were discovered. Recent investigations, however, have demonstrated that many proteins regulate the MDM2-p53 interaction, and that MDM2 may have p53-independent oncogenic functions. In order for novel MDM2 inhibitors to be translated to the clinic, it is necessary to obtain a better understanding of the regulation of MDM2 and of the MDM2-p53 interaction. In particular, the implications of various interactions between certain regulator(s) and MDM2/p53 under different circumstances need to be elucidated to determine which pathway(s) represent the best targets for therapy. Targeting both MDM2 itself and regulators of MDM2 and the MDM2-p53 interaction, or use of MDM2 inhibitors in combination with conventional treatments, may improve prospects for tumor eradication.