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Cell Cycle. 2004 May;3(5):616-20. Epub 2004 May 15.

Unraveling human tumor suppressor pathways: a tale of the INK4A locus.

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  • 1Division of Tumor Biology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.


Research on tumor suppressors has for a long time run on two tracks: analysis of the mutations found in human tumor material, and active genetic manipulation in mice. As primary human cells were not easily amenable to genetic alterations, the proof to designate a suspected gene as a tumor suppressor was often by generation of knockout mice and analysis of their phenotypes. In this way, a vast amount of information has been gathered on the actions of major players in carcinogenesis. However, it has recently become apparent that there are major differences in the requirements for oncogenic transformation between human and mouse cells. Among these are the expression of hTERT, SV40 small t, and the response to Ras induced growth arrest by the tumor suppressor pathways involving p53, pRb and the INK4A locus. The potential contribution of these tumor suppressors to the prevention of transformation of human cells can now begin to be unraveled by the recent emergence of novel RNA interference genetic tools.

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