Green Tea Boosts a Smart Anti-Cancer Protein

And protects DNA

Green Tea

Green Tea

You may want to add another cup of green tea to your day for cancer protection. Drinking green tea nurtures your cells’ genetic materials encapsulated in DNA. Your cells need healthy DNA to function and replicate properly. But DNA gets constantly damaged both by the body’s own chemicals and environmental toxins.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in abundance in green tea, appears to increase levels of p53, an anti-cancer protein known as the “guardian of the genome” for its ability to repair DNA damage or destroy cancerous cells, according to a study in Nature Communications.

P53 has several anti-cancer functions including slowing cell growth to allow for DNA repair; activating DNA repair; and initiating programmed cell death—called apoptosis—if DNA damage cannot be repaired.

What P53 Looks Like

The p53 protein ends in the N-terminal domain, which has a flexible shape and serves several functions depending on its interaction with multiple molecules.

The researchers found that the interaction between EGCG and p53 preserves the protein from degradation. Typically, after being produced within the body, p53 is quickly degraded. This regular cycle of production and degradation holds p53 levels at a low constant.

Chunyu Wang, professor of biological sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said that when EGCG binds with p53, the protein is not being degraded, so the level of p53 will increase with the direct interaction with EGCG, and that means there is more p53 for anti-cancer function. This is a very important interaction. Mutations in p53 are found in over half of human cancer. That means green tea could be meaningful in cancer prevention.


Jing Zhao, Alan Blayney, Xiaorong Liu, Lauren Gandy, Weihua Jin, Lufeng Yan, Jeung-Hoi Ha, Ashley J. Canning, Michael Connelly, Chao Yang, Xinyue Liu, Yuanyuan Xiao, Michael S. Cosgrove, Sozanne R. Solmaz, Yingkai Zhang, David Ban, Jianhan Chen, Stewart N. Loh, Chunyu Wang. EGCG binds intrinsically disordered N-terminal domain of p53 and disrupts p53-MDM2 interaction. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21258-5
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