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Detecting and targeting precancerous cells in noncancerous tissues is a major challenge for cancer prevention. Massive stabilization of mutant p53 (mutp53) proteins is a cancer-specific event that could potentially mark precancerous cells, yet in vivo protein-level mutp53 reporters are lacking. Here we developed two transgenic protein-level mutp53 reporters, p53R172H-Akaluc and p53-mCherry, that faithfully mimic the dynamics and function of mutp53 proteins in vivo. Using these reporters, we identified and traced rare precancerous clones in deep noncancerous tissues in various cancer models. In classic mutp53-driven thymic lymphoma models, we found that precancerous clones exhibit broad chromosome number variations, upregulate precancerous stage-specific genes such as Ybx3 and enhance amino acid transport and metabolism. Inhibiting amino acid transporters downstream of Ybx3 at the early but not late stage effectively suppresses tumorigenesis and prolongs survival. Together, these protein-level mutp53 reporters reveal undercharacterized features and vulnerabilities of precancerous cells during early tumorigenesis, paving the way for precision cancer prevention. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.


Pengle Yao, Peng Xiao, Zongyao Huang, Min Tang, Xiwen Tang, Gaoxia Yang, Qi Zhang, Xinpei Li, Zhengnan Yang, Chuanxing Xie, Hui Gong, Guihua Wang, Yutong Liu, Xiuxuan Wang, Huifang Li, Da Jia, Lunzhi Dai, Lu Chen, Chong Chen, Yu Liu, Hengyi Xiao, Yan Zhang, Yuan Wang. Protein-level mutant p53 reporters identify druggable rare precancerous clones in noncancerous tissues. Nature cancer. 2023 Aug;4(8):1176-1192

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PMID: 37537298

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