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Curr Biol. 1999 Feb 25;9(4):163-73.

A new pathway for mitogen-dependent cdk2 regulation uncovered in p27(Kip1)-deficient cells.

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  • 1Cancer Biology Group Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks California USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The ability of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) to promote cell proliferation is opposed by cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CKIs), proteins that bind tightly to cyclin-CDK complexes and block the phosphorylation of exogenous substrates. Mice with targeted CKI gene deletions have only subtle proliferative abnormalities, however, and cells prepared from these mice seem remarkably normal when grown in vitro. One explanation may be the operation of compensatory pathways that control CDK activity and cell proliferation when normal pathways are inactivated. We have used mice lacking the CKIs p21(Cip1) and p27(Kip1) to investigate this issue, specifically with respect to CDK regulation by mitogens.

RESULTS:

We show that p27 is the major inhibitor of Cdk2 activity in mitogen-starved wild-type murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). Nevertheless, inactivation of the cyclin E-Cdk2 complex in response to mitogen starvation occurs normally in MEFs that have a homozygous deletion of the p27 gene. Moreover, CDK regulation by mitogens is also not affected by the absence of both p27 and p21. A titratable Cdk2 inhibitor compensates for the absence of both CKIs, and we identify this inhibitor as p130, a protein related to the retinoblastoma gene product Rb. Thus, cyclin E-Cdk2 kinase activity cannot be inhibited by mitogen starvation of MEFs that lack both p27 and p130. In addition, cell types that naturally express low amounts of p130, such as T lymphocytes, are completely dependent on p27 for regulation of the cyclin E-Cdk2 complex by mitogens.

CONCLUSIONS:

Inhibition of Cdk2 activity in mitogen-starved fibroblasts is usually performed by the CKI p27, and to a minor extent by p21. Remarkably p130, a protein in the Rb family that is not related to either p21 or p27, will directly substitute for the CKIs and restore normal CDK regulation by mitogens in cells lacking both p27 and p21. This compensatory pathway may be important in settings in which CKIs are not expressed at standard levels, as is the case in many human tumors.

PMID:
10074425
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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