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DNA Repair (Amst). 2006 Jan 5;5(1):111-20. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

p21 controls patterning but not homologous recombination in RPE development.

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Department of Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


p21/WAF1/CIP1/MDA6 is a key cell cycle regulator. Cell cycle regulation is an important part of development, differentiation, DNA repair and apoptosis. Following DNA damage, p53 dependent expression of p21 results in a rapid cell cycle arrest. p21 also appears to be important for the development of melanocytes, promoting their differentiation and melanogenesis. Here, we examine the effect of p21 deficiency on the development of another pigmented tissue, the retinal pigment epithelium. The murine mutation pink-eyed unstable (p(un)) spontaneously reverts to a wild-type allele by homologous recombination. In a retinal pigment epithelium cell this results in pigmentation, which can be observed in the adult eye. The clonal expansion of such cells during development has provided insight into the pattern of retinal pigment epithelium development. In contrast to previous results with Atm, p53 and Gadd45, p(un) reversion events in p21 deficient mice did not show any significant change. These results suggest that p21 does not play any role in maintaining overall genomic stability by regulating homologous recombination frequencies during development. However, the absence of p21 caused a distinct change in the positions of the reversion events within the retinal pigment epithelium. Those events that would normally arrest to produce single cell events continued to proliferate uncovering a cell cycle dysregulation phenotype. It is likely that p21 is involved in controlling the developmental pattern of the retinal pigment. We also found a C57BL/6J specific p21 dependent ocular defect in retinal folding, similar to those reported in the absence of p53.

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