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The p53 homolog p63 modulates acute and chronic damage in irradiated salivary glandsHead and neck cancer is diagnosed in more than 50,000 Americans each year, resulting in roughly 11,000 deaths. For this disease, a typical therapeutic regimen involves cisplatin, a radiosensitizer, given alongside targeted irradiation. While technological advances such as IMRT have been useful in sparing normal tissues from radiotherapy, the salivary glands occupy much of the head and neck and surround several lymph nodes, and thus, non-diseased salivary glands are often damaged. This causes reduced salivary output, damaged oral mucosa, dysphagia, malnutrition and tooth decay. Often, these side-effects are so severe that patients discontinue treatment, however, in many cases, salivary gland damage is permanent, and treatment options are palliative. Specifically, muscarinic-cholinergic agonists are used to enhance secretion from remaining salivary cells, although due to non-specific action, these drugs have a number of ill-effects. It is clear that therapies are needed to prevent radiation-induced salivary gland damage, as well as to restore glandular function in patients who are already suffering.Previous work from our group has shown that salivary gland dysfunction results from loss of acinar cells to radiation-induced apoptosis. Importantly, a single intravenous dose of IGF1 can prevent apoptosis and preserve salivary output when given immediately prior to irradiation. Because of its broad effects, however, IGF1 may never be a viable clinical option. Instead, our goal is to identify signaling events that mediate the radioprotective effects of IGF1 downstream of Akt. Because radiation-induced apoptosis in salivary glands is p53-dependent, we assessed the contributions of the p53 homologs p63 and p73 to the DNA damage response. Here, we show that IGF1 enhances cell cycle arrest following irradiation by reducing inhibitory binding of deltaNp63 to the p21 promoter. We hypothesize that IGF1-induced cell cycle arrest may allow time for DNA repair, thus preventing apoptosis and maintaining salivary function. In addition, we indicate chronic signaling events downstream of p63 that may contribute to permanent loss of salivary function by blocking differentiation of salivary progenitor cells. Together, these results indicate that p63 may be a valid therapeutic target for both prevention of damage and restoration of function in irradiated salivary glands.