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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Mar 16;96(6):3092-7.

Cooperative action of germ-line mutations in decorin and p53 accelerates lymphoma tumorigenesis.

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Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Cell Biology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


Ectopic expression of decorin in a wide variety of transformed cells results in growth arrest and the inability to generate tumors in nude mice. This process is caused by a decorin-mediated activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor, which leads to a sustained induction of endogenous p21(WAF1/CIP1) (the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21) and growth arrest. However, mice harboring a targeted disruption of the decorin gene do not develop spontaneous tumors. To test the role of decorin in tumorigenesis, we generated mice lacking both decorin and p53, an established tumor-suppressor gene. Mice lacking both genes showed a faster rate of tumor development and succumbed almost uniformly to thymic lymphomas within 6 months [mean survival age (T50) approximately 4 months]. Mice harboring one decorin allele and no p53 gene developed the same spectrum of tumors as the double knockout animals, but had a survival rate similar to the p53 null animals (T50 approximately 6 months). Ectopic expression of decorin in thymic lymphoma cells isolated from double mutant animals markedly suppressed their colony-forming ability. When these lymphoma cells were cocultured with fibroblasts derived from either wild-type or decorin null embryos, the cells grew faster in the absence of decorin. Moreover, exogenous decorin proteoglycan or its protein core significantly retarded their growth in vitro. These results indicate that the lack of decorin is permissive for lymphoma tumorigenesis in a mouse model predisposed to cancer and suggest that germ-line mutations in decorin and p53 may cooperate in the transformation of lymphocytes and ultimately lead to a more aggressive phenotype by shortening the tumor latency.

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