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Oncogene. 2004 Mar 11;23(10):1863-73.

Enhanced malignant tumorigenesis in Cdk4 transgenic mice.

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Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.


In a previous study, we reported that overexpression of cyclin-dependent kinase-4 (CDK4) in mouse epidermis results in epidermal hyperplasia, hypertrophy and severe dermal fibrosis. In this study, we have investigated the susceptibility to skin tumor formation by forced expression of CDK4. Skin tumors from transgenic mice showed a dramatic increase in the rate of malignant progression to squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) in an initiation-promotion protocol. Histopathological analysis of papillomas from transgenic mice showed an elevated number of premalignant lesions characterized by dysplasia and marked atypia. Interestingly, transgenic mice also developed tumors in initiated but not promoted skin, demonstrating that CDK4 replaced the action of tumor promoters. These results suggest that expression of cyclin D1 upon ras activation synergizes with CDK4 overexpression. However, cyclin D1 transgenic mice and double transgenic mice for cyclin D1 and CDK4 did not show increased malignant progression in comparison to CDK4 transgenic mice. Biochemical analysis of tumors showed that CDK4 sequesters the CDK2 inhibitors p27Kip1 and p21Cip1, suggesting that indirect activation of CDK2 plays an important role in tumor development. These results indicate that, contrary to the general assumption, the catalytic subunit, CDK4, has higher oncogenic activity than cyclin D1, revealing a potential use of CDK4 as therapeutic target.

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