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FEBS Lett. 2006 Jun 26;580(15):3687-93. Epub 2006 Jun 2.

Increased p21 expression and complex formation with cyclin E/CDK2 in retinoid-induced pre-B lymphoma cell apoptosis.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.


Cip/Kip family protein p21, a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor, is directly transactivated by retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARalpha) upon retinoic acid (RA):RARalpha binding. Yet the role of p21 upregulation by RA in lymphoma cells remains unknown. Here, we show that, in human pre-B lymphoma Nalm6 cells, RA-induced proliferation inhibition results from massive cell death characterized by apoptosis. Upregulated p21 by RA accompanies caspase-3 activation and precedes the occurrence of apoptosis. p21 induction leads to increased p21 complex formation with cyclin E/CDK2, which occurs when cyclin E and CDK2 levels remain constant. CDK2 can alternatively promote apoptosis, but the mechanisms remain unknown. Data presented here suggest a novel RA-signaling, by which RA-induced p21 induction and complex formation with cyclin E/CDK2 diverts CDK2 function from normally driving proliferation to alternatively promoting apoptosis.

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